Feb 3, 2011

Kenneth Cole Mistweets

Kenneth Cole learned about the power of Twitter the hard way. Amidst the ongoing uprising in Egypt, Kenneth Cole tweeted, "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

The tweet went viral, with thousands of people reacting to the insensitive message. While I understand the humor behind the tweet (my father found it particularly witty), was making light of the harsh situation really the right move?

As one of the most recognized brand's in the world, Kenneth Cole has a reputation to uphold. The fashion world may be able to get away with off-hand remarks on most days, but situations like these need to be addressed cautiously. Take the BP oil spill, for example. With the entire world already poking fun at the reckless oil giant, Kenneth Cole could have gotten away with tweeting a humorous remark. With situations like the current Egypt uprising, people are treading carefully because of the sensitive nature of the issue. Kenneth Cole, or his PR, should have foreseen the backlash prior to their tweet.

To his credit, Kenneth Cole team quickly retracted his tweet. He deleted the original tweet and responded saying "we weren't intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment - KC." Kole also issued a Facebook message saying:

"I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I've dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate. Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer."
From a PR perspective, this was the right move. According to the Twitter bio, Kenneth Cole isn't the only one tweeting from the account. Since the tweet in question did not have his telltale KC signature, it's safe to assume it was one of his "inspiring associates." However, signing the apology messages with his name shows that Kenneth takes responsibility for his employees' actions.

What do you think of the situation?

Side Note: You must follow @KennethColePR - its commentary is hilarious.

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