Dear Mr. Nilsson,
I am writing to you as a rabbi, but more importantly, as a father of a 12 year old daughter who admires Justin Bieber.
It is my understanding that Mr. Bieber made $58 million dollars last year alone, largely from his corporate sponsors – Adidas being one of them. In 2012, Mr. Bieber signed an endorsement deal with Adidas to be one of the celebrity faces of your NEO line. He is featured prominently on your website and social media feeds, including Twitter where #Neoliebers incorporates your product with Mr. Bieber’s last name.
Clearly, Mr. Bieber needs help. His reckless behavior is putting himself and others in harm’s way. We have seen too many young celebrities travel down this path. We know that if things don’t change, the outcome will be tragic. Mr. Nilsson, as a sponsor of Mr. Bieber’s, Adidas is in a position to change things. Sadly, Adidas has come out publicly saying that “nothing is changing in our relationship with Mr. Bieber at this time.” Mr. Nilsson, as a parent of a young girl who adores Mr. Bieber but is confused and troubled by his behavior, I am truly disappointed that Adidas is not taking a stand, altering its relationship with Mr. Bieber and, thus, doing its part to end his downward spiral.
Certainly, Mr. Bieber is ultimately the one responsible for his reprehensible and dangerous actions. However, by continuing to fund Mr. Bieber, Adidas is only helping to fuel his rampage. Mr. Bieber is a young man who has a tremendous amount of money and power and very little understanding of how to use this money and power responsibly. Your company can teach a very important moral lesson by pulling the plug on your deal with Mr. Bieber. You can make it clear to him and his millions of fans, including my daughter, that abusing alcohol, using illegal drugs, driving recklessly, disregarding the law, vandalizing property and treating others with contempt are not tolerated. However, you have not chosen to do so. Instead, you continue to endorse him and, thus, condone his behavior.
Fortunately, my daughter has learned from my wife and I that Mr. Bieber, while extremely talented, is not worthy of her admiration. I worry about the countless children and teens out there who have not learned this lesson. They watch Mr. Bieber make terrible choices but face no consequences. He can be arrested, charged with DUI and resisting arrest, but he continues to make money from Adidas and other sponsors. This is a very sad statement about our society.
Mr. Nilsson, I understand that Mr. Bieber has not been convicted of anything at this time. However, there is no mistaking the fact that he needs serious help. As a company that is supporting Mr. Bieber and his lifestyle, Adidas has a moral responsibility to make certain that he does not hurt himself or others. It is also your company’s moral responsibility to teach Mr. Bieber’s young fans that there are consequences to our actions. Mr. Bieber’s reckless behavior should not be endorsed. Doing so empowers Mr. Bieber while his life falls apart before his millions of confused and misguided fans.
I do hope that you will reflect upon how your company’s decision to maintain the relationship with Mr. Bieber is actually hurting him and his fans. The Bible teaches us that one who starts a fire that spreads out of control is responsible for the damage that it causes as it burns everything in its path. Mr. Nilsson, by doing nothing, Adidas is continuing to fuel the fire. Please, do something to stop this fire your company is fueling before someone gets burned. Make a very bold statement and change the way our culture responds to celebrities who are out of control. Help us bring moral clarity back to society.
Rabbi Andrew M. Jacobs