After the Astroworld Festival tragedy, the superstar rapper’s once coveted brand will never be the same.
As the fallout from the Astroworld Festival tragedies, which has now led to nine deaths, continues to develop, Travis Scott’s culpability remains up in the air. The superstar’s career now rightfully sits in serious limbo. Yet, while the success of his music will likely survive in the long-term, his position as a major corporate face and figure will perhaps endure a major death knell.
In the coming months, Scott was slated to be the face of luxury giant Dior’s upcoming spring/summer collection (the entire season is a collaboration with Scott’s Cactus Jack clothing label), unleash a new collection of Air Max 1 sneakers with Nike, and headline Coachella, the biggest music festival in the country, in the spring.
Scott, who was the first star to usher in McDonald’s’ recent string of high-profile celebrity partnerships with his “Travis Scott Meal,” is one of the rare rappers who not only pushed through to the wider mainstream, but practically tapped into household name status as a reliable face for major global corporate brands. In the last couple years, he became arguably the most reliable celebrity endorsement to market to an entire generation of teens and young people (the ages of those who died at Astroworld were between 14-27).
Now, it is entirely possible for Dior to pull its entire upcoming collection with Scott — an explosive move for a fashion brand just months away from shipping out the products to stores. “It is an apocalyptic marketing turn for that brand when you double down on this icon to Gen Z that now has effectively detonated in your face,” Eric Schiffer, the chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, recently told Rolling Stone. A Dior staffer under anonymity also said they were “very concerned.”
Scott was already replaced by Post Malone for the upcoming Day N Vegas festival, and it is plausible, even perhaps likely, that Scott will be forced to pull out of Coachella as a headliner next April, particularly when one considers the liabilities for a festival of an even greater scale than Astroworld.
The situation presents a rare instance in which corporations’ moneyed interests align with the ethical choice — many have criticized Scott as the primary culprit behind what occurred at his festival, and throwing piles of money at a celebrity who at the very least has shown himself to be cavalier about his own fans’ safety is not only bad optics, but unconscionable in light of the recent tragedies. Granted, it may be too late logistically for Dior to pull its collection, and fans may still flock to buy Scott’s collaboration regardless; in that case, brands may in turn correct course and double-down on future deals with him. But the stakes are still high, with details around the fallout from the festival being revealed by the day.
The truth is, Scott’s career as a musician will survive, and likely even thrive still. His music, of course, is what his celebrity is built around, and fans will, for better or worse, continue listening to an artist of his A-list status. (The same day as Astroworld Festival, Scott released a pair of singles, which have in the few days since their releases racked up some 14 million and 10 million streams and counting on Spotify, respectively). But at this point, the corporate empire he had built himself up into may legitimately come crumbling down, or at the very least never be the same — as it should be.