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Calm Down About Kenneth Cole’s Tweet

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on February 3, 2011

American designer Kenneth Cole just about broke the Internet on Thursday when his company used its @KennethCole Twitter account to send an exploitative tweet using the #Cairo hashtag and current unrest in Egypt to advertise its new spring collection. If you’re looking for someone to be fired over the social media marketing gaffe, the tweet was signed “–KC.”

Cole tried to make up for the misguided tweet by removing it from his page and apologizing in a follow-up:

Cole decided that might not be enough, so he posted this apology to Facebook: “I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. 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 tweet literally heard ’round the world has produced anger and venom from many, but it’s also given rise to one of the best parody accounts on Twitter thus far, like @BPGlobalPR, only even funnier and more outrageous. Here’s a list of some hilariously insensitive @KennethColePR tweets:

“Parents of Hiroshima — you’ll melt when you see our new kids collection! #KennethColeTweets”

“People are looking at our sales girls in Chernobyl like they have three eyes. It’s just our insane markdowns! #KennethColeTweets”

“You’re gonna want to Abu Ghraib one of our hoodies before they’re gone. #KennethColeTweets”

“Hey, Pope Benedict – there’s no way to fondle our spring shoes inappropriately! #KennethColeTweets”

“Of course there are no gays in Iran, they’re all shopping at my new outlet in Dubai. Holla! #KennethColeTweets”

“Searching for you missing daughter in Aruba? At least, you don’t need to be a van der SLEUTH to find our resort wear! #KennethColeTweets”

“Rolling through Germany? Gestapo by our new Berlin store! #KennethColeTweets”

“Our Tucson store is locked and loaded with Spring looks! #KennethColeTweets”

“People of Haiti, fall into our store for earth-shattering savings! #KennethColeTweets”

“People from New Orleans are flooding into Kenneth Cole stores! #KennethColeTweets”

What’s happening on the streets of Egypt is serious, and it’s important. ABC News’ Brian Hartman almost had his head cut off today. More than 1,200 people were injured when pro-Mubarak forces clashed with anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Wednesday. A dozen or more were killed.

Egypt is not a light story. We know. We all know that.

But people have used gallows humor and dark comedy forever to make light of certain events and situations that otherwise might just be depressing or uncomfortable. Did Cole’s tweet exploit a terribly serious moment in history? Yes it did. Was it crass and insensitive? You know it. But was it funny? ABSOLUTELY. It was. It really was. In fact, the joke was rather well-crafted.

It wasn’t just a ring and run about unrest in the streets, it featured the perfect set-up of the Internet being shut down in order to nail the punchline of the spring collection being online. That’s actually not that easy to do in 140 characters. Cole seemingly possesses a better sense of humor than most.

We sympathize with the people of Egypt. We have covered this story extensively over the past 10 days, and we’ve done so with very little to no snark or sarcasm. But that doesn’t mean the whole situation’s not ripe for comedy, or parody. When did we as a society start taking 140-character missives so seriously?

Most people didn’t give a shit about Egypt or the Egyptian people until six, seven or eight days ago, even *after* the unrest began. Now all of a sudden every holier-than-thou Egypt expert wants to pretend that they are the most righteous when it comes to the struggle there. That’s the real joke here.

Really, who the hell cares? Please focus your outrage elsewhere. If everyone got this upset over the real issues, rather than what some jackass said in 140 characters, we’d live in a far better world.

We’ll see whether all press is good press for Cole. If so, Steve Madden’s calling dibs on Yemen.

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