Kenneth Cole, the fashion house famous for its shoes (at least in my closet!), really put foot in mouth during the Arab Spring. At the height of the demonstrations in Egypt in 2011, the twitter account credited to the designer posted this:


You might remember how important Twitter was during those demonstrations, when internet access was often blocked and organizers used the #Cairo hashtag to connect with supporters. Maybe not so much to shop for shoes.

Needless to say, the internet masses turned on Kenneth Cole. Those who had been using the #Cairo hashtag outside of Egypt to keep up to date on news were pretty vicious.

  • WTF is wrong with you, @KennethCole ?!/KennethCole/status/33177584262971393
  • @KennethCole Totally poor taste. People are dying in the streets and you want to advertise your fashions? #boycottKennethCole
  • I have to say the #Kennethcole tweet made me giggle; they had to know there would be backlash.. They are now in a PR nightmare. Intended???

And within minutes, a parody @kennethcolepr account was created, and the #KennethColeTweets hashtag took off.

  • “People from New Orleans are flooding into Kenneth Cole stores!”#KennethColeTweets
  • Hey #Mubarak: Perhaps it’d be easier to step down with a pair of ultra-comfy loafers from our spring collection! #KennethColeTweets
  • Going to a cross burning? You’ll hate cutting eye holes in our 600 thread count cotton sheets. #KennethColeTweets
  • Horrified by the discarded shoes at Auschwitz? You’ll never part with anything from our new line—not over your dead body! #KennethColeTweets
  • Don’t be a slave to bad fashion – Celebrate Black History Month with our new Spring line! #KennethColeTweets

Kenneth Cole did post a kind-of apology:


But still, not the kind of PR you really want, is it? Despite the apology, the tweet generated negative coverage for weeks. Just goes to show that just because you’re fashionable doesn’t mean you exhibit good taste. 😉

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