Hip-Hop Artist Ross Loses Endorsement Amid Lyrical Controversy

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Miami-based rapper Rick Ross recently lost a major merchandise endorsement deal with Reebok. The athletic products manufacturer decided to make the move after one of Ross’ songs contained lyrics that raised controversy among a number of public-interest groups.

According to reports, a recently released song’s lyrics are suggestive of and promote sexual assault. Since a number of entities have attacked these lyrics, Ross has issued a statement indicating that the lyrics were taken out of context and do not endorse illegal activities.

Nevertheless, Reebok officials made the announcement that they have decided to drop Ross from all their promotional materials, because the lyrics don’t align with company values. Furthermore, the company says the artist hasn’t issued an adequate response to the seriousness of the allegations against him.

Like many endorsement deals, Ross’ deal with Reebok included TV and print ads. Obtaining and maintaining an endorsement deal like this can do a lot to promote an entertainers public image, while providing support to another company. Like many business arrangements, endorsement deals can have complex clauses and contingencies.

When entering into an endorsement deal, it’s important for both parties to understand the terms of their agreement. Although it’s not exactly certain how Ross’ contract with Reebok was structured, there may have been terms for the company to drop the deal if he displayed controversial or suggestive behavior.

While the aforementioned clauses may be of concern for companies offering endorsements, it’s also important that the entertainer or athlete receiving the deal is well-represented by an entertainment lawyer. Without this kind of assistance, it’s possible that the entertainer will not receive terms that truly benefit his or her public image and professional reputation.

Source: Reuters, “Reebok drops Rick Ross after controversy over rape lyrics,” Chris Michaud, April 12, 2013

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