Clothing designer Kenneth Cole’s controversial personal Twitter post, using the passionate Cairo protests to promote his spring collection received instant condemnation throughout the social media world. The controversy started after Cole posted a tweet on the company’s twitter account: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available.” The tweet was followed by a link to the designer’s online store.
The post went out on February 3 as the political situation in Cairo had just begun to deteriorate, with increasing reports of violence.
Within an hour of the twitter post, Cole apologised and had removed the offending tweet by the afternoon. Cole posted an apology on his Facebook page, above a long column of scathing comments.
Cole wrote:“I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”
The effect of the insensitive remark about Egypt was fast and brutal. Kenneth Cole’s Buzz score with took a sharp drop, sending him from an 8.7 to a 2.8. By February 7, a few days after the tweet and accompanying apology, the score barely inched up to 3, still below the 5.5 average Buzz score for the entire Apparel and Shoes sector. With the Twittersphere still on high alert, and media outlets pouncing it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the brand to bounce back.