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article imageDesigner Kenneth Cole apologizes for 'insensitive tweet' on Egypt

By David Silverberg     Feb 4, 2011 in Internet
Menswear designer Kenneth Cole removed a tweet and apologized for his recent statement that has sparked a massive backlash online. He recently wrote about the Egypt uprising, "...Rumour is they heard our new spring collection is now available online..."
The edgy designer is no stranger to advertising controversy, but now he's facing intense criticism over a message on his Twitter feed yesterday.
He tweeted: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”
After a barrage of attacks appeared on Kenneth Cole's Facebook page, the designer later apologized and said he deleted the tweet. He wrote on Facebook late yesterday, "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."
The tweet from Kenneth Cole that sparked major criticism online
The tweet from Kenneth Cole that sparked major criticism online
From Kenneth Cole Twitter feed
Many commenters on his Facebook feed aren't buying the apology. One person writes, "I still cant get over how you could even think of making jokes about Egypt/Cairo when people are dying in the streets." Another says, "What happened today is an example of how by not minding your manners on social media can lead to a PR nightmare. Misusing a hashtag to put your brand in the stream of a tragedy is an extreme poor choice."
Others believe the backlash was inappropriate. "Am I the only person who thought it was a funny tongue-in-cheek comment? I recognize that the uprising in Egypt is a serious event, but like Oscar Wilde once said "Life is too important to be taken seriously."
It looks like Twitter users are poking some fun at Cole, starting a fake account called KennethColePR and posting similarly offensive tweets such as "South Africans won't be able to tear APARTheid my new knits -- they're just that strong!" and "Hey, Zsa Zsa - you can still wear one new KC pump!"
Cole has embraced pun-like advertising for more than a decade. Shortly after 9/11, a Cole billboard read, "God Dress America." Gawker also reports on a post-Katrina billboard with the tagline: "Hurricanes aren't ending. And bird flu is now coming. BUT WEAR?"
Window cling prank at Kenneth Cole SOMA location highlights Kenneth Cole’s Cairo gaffe.
Window cling prank at Kenneth Cole SOMA location highlights Kenneth Cole’s Cairo gaffe.
Photo courtesy of Flickr / mikest
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