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Kenneth Cole learns the meaning of blowback

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole is seen during an interview in Toronto Thursday, Oct.18, 2007.

Adrian Wyld/CP

It was clearly too soon. When Kenneth Cole tweeted an insensitive joke about the uprising in Egypt to sell more products, he probably didn't expect to make headlines beyond Twitter. Here's the Thursday tweet that led the Internet world to lash out at the fashion icon:

"Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

Within minutes of this post, Web users started sharing the message, mostly in disbelief that the head of a major brand would be so clueless as to make a joke during a crisis. Bloggers posted advice on how a CEO can avoid this type of controversy and Twitter users promoted the hashtag #boycottKennethCole.

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Shortly after the insulting tweet, @KennethCole said he didn't intend to make light of a serious situation and the company posted an apology on Facebook. While I'd love to share the reaction from fans, they are not fit for print (think a lot of swearing and name-calling). In the wake of this social media storm, one creative web user took a cue from the @BPGlobalPR account that went viral last May.

A quick peek @KennethColePR is sure to make you cringe. The fake account, which states that "Kenneth Cole is all about making sure you look good…no matter what is happening," is jam-packed with (really, really) inappropriate jokes. Here's a sample, and they keep coming.

"JeffreyDahmer would have eaten up our spring collection!" #KennethColeTweets

"People are looking at our sales girls in Chernobyl like they have three eyes. It's just our insane markdowns!" #KennethColeTweets

"You're gonna want to Abu Ghraib one of our hoodies before they're gone." #KennethColeTweets

And those are the tame ones.

While I thought I'd seen every social media mistake around, this big-time blunder clearly takes the cake. Making light of an international crisis where a reported 5,000 people have been injured is just bad business. Good luck with that spring collection KC, you'll need it.

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About the Author
Social Media Blogger

Amber MacArthur is a new media consultant, speaker, and journalist. As co-founder of agency MGImedia.ca, her team has managed social media initiatives for Tony Robbins, Canada Goose, Rogers, the American Dental Association, among other organizations. She is also an exclusive speaker with The Lavin Agency where she keynotes dozens of conferences across North America every year. More

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