Kenneth Cole Apologizes But Is it Too Late?

Kenneth Cole rocked Twitterverse this morning with its spring collection tweet directed at the unrest in Cairo. The past 24 to 48 hours in Cairo have been filled with complete and utter chaos that continues to deteriorate quickly. The people are revolting and have turned to violence. The violence is not limited to the supporters and non supporters of the government as we saw with the attack on Anderson Cooper and his crew. The violence has escalated to gunfire and loss of lives. This unrest is felt all around the world and has people fleeing the area as quickly as possible just to be safe. The severity of this conflict and how it is felt all around the world is what makes the Kenneth Cole tweet all the more concerning. Kenneth Cole sells clothes. They sell clothing through their advertising efforts, quality of clothing and established brand image.

Kenneth Cole Rocks Twitterverse

In advertising, the use of humor is a well known and very effective practice. The Kenneth Cole tweet to some is humorous. To others, it is extremely insensitive. The tactic of using something that is very hot in the media to garner the attention of the audience to then take the focus off the topic and shift it over to the brand is also one that is practiced. Kenneth Cole, it appears, was trying to grab our attention and hold it long it enough to have the focus be on their spring collection. We definitely paid attention but not to their spring collection. Their Facebook page exploded with those threatening to boycott all Kenneth Cole merchandise, some threw items away, some supported them and some resorted to wishing harm upon Kenneth Cole and his family.

kenneth cole twitter

Kenneth Cole Apology and Brand Responsibility

We  hold brands to a higher standard. We expect them to manufacture clothing that meets and exceeds our standards, use the best materials, create and maintain a safe and manufacturing plant that is not is not a sweatshop and we also want the brand to be carried within a retail chain that also is responsible to our standards. Kenneth Cole through their attempts to create a buzz for their spring collection was irresponsible. Their apology came at least 2 hours or so later and only was after their was such an out pour of disgust from the online community. kenneth cole rocks twitterverse

Is this apology too late? Is it sincere enough? Is the brand image tarnished or is this the story of the day and will be forgotten by tomorrow or especially over the weekend as we prepare for the advertising-palooza that comes with the SuperBowl? I am thinking that this will be forgotten by the weekend and the spring collection will not suffer especially since the line was purchased months ago and has already been shipped to retailers.

Brand Voice

The voice of the brand is one that we pay close attention to. We as consumers do not want to be associated with or support a brand that conflicts with our values. When we purchase and consume a brand or wear their apparel, are we saying that the brand represents our voice? We are not going to agree with everything that the brand does however we know that when a brand is supporting a cause we back, we trample one another to be a part of it and show our connection to the brand. When they are irresponsible, we abandon the brand in drones. This is sending that message that we will not tolerate corporate irresponsibility so if we look at that, we then have to consider when we are supporting them that we are telling the brand and everyone that sees us purchasing, consuming and wearing their brand that we are allowing them to be our voice.

What do you think? Is the apology too late? Has the damage been done or are those that have speaking out in such disgust not even Kenneth Cole customers?

Tweet photo credits: Zdnet.com

Kenneth Cole New York photo credit: Ben Sutherland

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  • Suzanne,

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of this. It is rather disgusting. I’ve been following the Egypt story since it started and it has been tough to watch as things started to disintegrate the last few days. Using the situation as the premise for a advertising “joke” is kind of sick.

    This is such an important event. I wish great brands like Kenneth Cole were looking for ways to support the movement rather than mock it.

    @jwsokol

    • Suzanne,

      One more thing – what’s up with the twitter comments below? I love the integration between your blog and tweets.

      @jwsokol

      • it is a feature in disqus that is pretty nifty huh?

    • Jason

      I agree they should be supportive. Here is the thing. Kenneth Cole is not new to the media, interviews, etc. He knows what to say and do to create buzz for his merchandise. I am so much saying that he did this on purpose but lets weight the risk of the backlash vs the chatter. We are talking about it and their spring line. Funny how that happens. He knows that this would be picked up but that it would die fast with the superbowl commercials approaching. Was this just a stunt to get us talking or is Kenneth Cole acting out and forgets every interview he did, every interaction with media, etc? It is not like we hear scandals like this frequently about things he said or anything really bad about the hrand.

  • Suzanne,

    It was a Tacky Tweet. Big time.

    Even my occasional A.D.D. inspired obnoxious wouldn’t go that far. Especially in a public place; like Twitter.

    JL

    • Very true although I have to admit that if I read all my tweets from the JETS season I might wonder what on earth I was thinking.

  • Gihan

    Ummm … Where exactly is the apology? Their note neither admits to a making a mistake nor makes an apology. In fact, it could easily be construed as, “Lighten up!” rather than “Sorry”.

    • Gihan

      It could. He put out a statement and we all jumped to say how he apologized and the chatter not too long after diminished.