Feb 6 2011

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.

Jan 31 2011

A Very Unnecessary PR Disaster

People are asking, demanding, the boycotting of a newly opened restaurant in Kuwait. Internet citizens are grilling, bashing, slamming a restaurant which is a little more than a month old! WOW!

It’s brand new for God’s sake, so how on earth did it manage to get itself tangled, literally, in a web of disasters in a record time? Alexander explains in his blog.

It started when a couple, who also happen to be bloggers who live in Kuwait, decided to visit a newly opened restaurant, Benihana. Now the couple, being the bloggers that they are, did what a blogger would do: talk about their experience! The review wasn’t even negative, and a very balanced one if you ask me. (You have to read the comments on the original post as well, some really funny stuff, obviously by the restaurant’s staff, or Mike Servo, the restaurant’s General Manager).

Now the restaurant has sued the bloggers (read the court order in Arabic here) and are outrageously demanding the following:

  1. An amount of 65,000 Emirati Dirhams! (or 5001 Kuwaiti Dinars. Five thousand and ONE!)
  2. Shutting down the “slanderous” website (the blog)
  3. Paying for lawyer’s fees

I am sitting here typing and I’m fuming with rage! Have these guys been living under a rock?! Do they know what a blog is? What the internet is?

What should have been a simple: “Dear xxxx, we appreciate your feedback. Your comments and those of others are valuable to us and we’ll be working hard to make sure you have a great experience next time! Thank you for visiting our restaurant!” turned into a threat.

What could and should have been a great opportunity to promote Benihana’s offering (had they improved their food and reinvited the blogger) turned into a PR disaster. And a new business that just needed a few good cooks now needs world-class crisis management. But certainly making this tale one of the best case studies on what companies should never do.

Here is what the clever general manager wrote on 2:48AM’s blog.

“Thank You for visiting us in our restaurant and dining in with your wife .I had found your comments and in your web site on Benihana. I also found it out that our rights and name is being used in a wrong way and broadcasting the video without a proper consent from us is really annoying specially Benihana is just opened up its doors to the public. We are seeking and consulting our legal dept. on how we can form a type of law suit against your website to be brought up to the Kuwait authorities. We respect opinion, but we see it in a way that Benihana name have been destroyed and abused on your website. We are eager to know your name and meet you personally if you don’t have anything to hide.”

Now people are grilling the restaurant all over the internets. Several bloggers have posted about it already. Twitter in Dubai was trending with the restaurant’s infamous name. Their Facebook page is plagued with people  leaving disapproving comments (at the time of writing this post). You too can join in if you want ;) (although you’ll have to “Like” the page to be able to comment, something which I don’t really like!)

After all this very negative publicity, I really hope the restaurant would have enough sense to drop the case and learn a few things form this experience, basic things like … you really can’t force people to like your service, and you certainly can’t force them to shut up.

They wanted to shut down one website, now good luck shutting down social media!

Thank you Alexander for pointing this out.

Jan 4 2011

Romance, Jordanian Style!

Jordanian romance might sound like an oxymoron, but let me assure you that it is alive and well. And here’s a recent video to prove that (may provoke suicidal thoughts, or like in my case, hysterical laughter):

(I liked the echoing “Titjawwazeeni?” LOL!)

Although now I’m really wondering, did Hala stand him up or are they now living tacky ever after?

Or, hmmmmm, could it be a PR stunt from Grand Hyatt Amman?

It doesn’t matter, because it was a good laugh!

Jul 15 2010

The New Old Spice

I’ve always associated Old Spice with, well, old people. I remember when I was a kid I used to love the smell of Old Spice, whenever my dad used it.

The brand still existed as I grew up, and I always saw its famous logo and unmistakable bottle at stores, but I would never use it. Why would I want to associate myself with a old man’s cologne? I wanted something a “new” spice. Continue reading