When Kenneth Cole used the crisis in Egypt as part of a pun in a Tweet to promote his new spring collection, the response was less than amicable. Some people do not have the same sense of humor as Mr. Cole. The Tweet read, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” (Pause for “OMG, inappropriate!” reaction.)
I agree that this is not the kind of joke to post when you are a famous public figure. I really wonder how he could post this on a public forum in the first place. While some may chuckle at this joke, the fact is that when you are in the limelight, political correctness and tact are always a must. And also, this serves as a perfect reminder to everyone that we shouldn’t always update our statuses to or Tweet whatever is on our minds. Imagine if you were the author of this remark and a prospective employer had found this just in time for an interview (which definitely happens). Sometimes your virtual self can become indistinguishable from your actual self, a scary but accurate thought.
I have a lot respect for Kenneth Cole, not only as a designer, but as a person. Part of his apology read, “I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues”, which is true. He opened a T-shirt store to raise money for the Gulf oil spill cleanup that had some catchy slogans. So he at least has some credibility that makes this a bit more easily swept under the rug. This is just an “oops” moment that will surely be forgotten the next time he undertakes a fundraising effort for a noble cause.
So, Kenneth, you made a bit of a blunder that made some people upset and some people facepalm. It may or may not be immortalized on FAIL blog. But, at least you had the class to be accountable for your actions, which most people lack. At least you’ve learned your lesson in the social networking arena.