Kenneth Cole is a jerk

By now you must have heard about the cruel, insensitive, tasteless, inhuman, tweet that Kenneth Cole posted.

If you haven’t then here’s a quick recap: last Friday, the Friday of DepartureKenneth Cole‘s official twitter handle blurted:

To make it a perfect storm of a PR disaster for KC, the tweet was personally sent by the man himself, as described in his twitter bio: “Thoughts that end in -KC are from me personally“, which it did, because in my opinion, no social media guy, as ignorant as they may be sometimes, would tweet a line that obnoxious.

Obviously, once tweeted, all hell broke lose! The most interesting of all responses, though, was the creation of a parody Kenneth Cole PR twitter handle, tweeting Kenneth Cole-like heartless puns:

Parents of Hiroshima — you’ll melt when you see our new kids collection!
You’re gonna want to Abu Ghraib one of our hoodies before they’re gone.
Hey, Pope Benedict – there’s no way to fondle our spring shoes inappropriately!
Of course there are no gays in Iran, they’re all shopping at my new outlet in Dubai!
Rolling through Germany? Gestapo by our new Berlin store!

Later on, of course, KC deleted his tweet and issued an apology (interesting comments there by the way). But it was too little, too late. He has already misused a noble cause, stolen an honorable hashtag to associate with his shoes and mocked the hopes and aspirations of millions of people, of whom dozens have died so far and some are still MIA till this moment, struggling to outcast a dictator. Too little, too F—-N late, Kenneth!

Mind you, this is all not new to Cole. A bit of googling around the internets showed that insensitivity and lameness is his thing. Without them he’s just another shoe maker. It was not the first time he used obnoxious puns to promote his work. War in Iraq? Homelessness? AIDS? 9/11? Religion? Katrina, Bird FluFlight 1549 (the one that landed on the Hudson)? You name it! … It’s like this guy is anxiously waiting for the next disaster to occur to use it for his benefit.

But, LOL, unfortunately for Mr. Cole, and for our amusement, it doesn’t end there. That same night, an outraged prankster has, deservingly so, affixed a decal of the same tweet, word for word, on one of KC’s branches. Thank you, Mr. Prankster!

Kenneth Cole single-handedly managed to hurt his brand and he hurt it real bad. And unless he dedicates some time and effort to the Egyptian cause, I’m betting this is going to be a tough one for him to get out of.

Finally, here are some good tips to follow when tweeting, especially if you’re doing so on behalf of a brand:

  1. Be Sensitive. Never, ever use a political, environmental or civic crisis to promote your company or your products. It reeks of opportunism.
  2. Be Positive. As a business entity, you should never post negative comments about others on Twitter. You’re the only one that will end up looking bad.
  3. Be Clear. Make sure you have a policy regarding who in your company may post using the company’s official Twitter account, and make sure you offer them training on what is and isn’t appropriate. Make clear the ramifications for misuse.
  4. Be Clean. Never use profanities or other vulgar terms in a tweet. Once again, it will only make you look bad, and you’ll likely offend customers, too.
  5. Be Literate. Don’t follow in the footsteps of Sarah Palin or George W. Bush: Make sure it’s a word before you make it public.
  6. Be Careful. Last but definitely not least, remember that using social media is a little bit like driving. Don’t do it while intoxicated, and always think twice before you tweet.

Now having said all that, what’s the first adjective that comes to your mind which rhymes with Cole? Yep, that’s right.

Related posts:

  1. A Very Unnecessary PR Disaster
  2. The New Old Spice
  3. Twitter’s rotten eggs
  4. PR D’oh!

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