Please. Kanye West fans are Kanye West fans only partly because of his boppy music and his candylike sunglasses collection and his propensity for glow-in-the-dark stunts. Kanye fans also love him because he is a raging egomaniac. And in dissing Taylor Swift at the VMAs—during her acceptance speech, no less—he just gave those fans more of what they crave.
In fact, here's a theory that's bound to get the Swift fans steaming in their Frye boots...
Kanye is only going to get—I'm gonna say it! I'm gonna say it!—stronger. First off, Kanye already has an endorsement and flavor development deal with Guru Beverage, a natural energy drink company, and I'm told by Guru's cofounder that the deal is still as solid as ever.
"Things haven't changed for the moment," cofounder Ray Jolicoeur tells me. "It's business as usual."
As for other deals, don't look for West to appear any less appealing. In fact, he's just doing the same stuff that gets him endorsement deals to begin with.
"His antics at the VMAs are in line with his larger-than-life ego and previous public hissy fits," teen branding and marketing executive Arthur Gallego tells me. "For certain younger audiences, his outburst only made him cooler, and gave him street cred. As far as corporate branding goes, the execs who cut those deals want Kanye for the exact reason I noted above: his ability to connect to an edgier, more 'street' teen or youth audience."
And like I said, that audience likes Kanye for more than his music. They want obnoxious, over-the-top behavior, and they get it.
Will he lose any support at all? Well, if the country people had been considering some sort of hideous crossover project, that's probably dead. Otherwise, the backlash "will be negligible as far as his machine is concerned," Gallego says.
"Will his music sales slide? Imperceptibly. His sound is too distinct, and he's smart about his collaborations with other artists."
In other words, don't bother fighting the Kanye. He is, as the lyrics go, heartless, and the fans just love it.
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