In the age of social media, 140 characters (or less) can cause a complete PR disaster

Case in point: Yesterday’s tweet from Kenneth Cole’s Twitter account trying to latch on to the vast conversation regarding the uprising in Egypt.

It’s pretty surprising that such an insensitive tweet would come from a brand like Kenneth Cole that has been active in promoting AIDS awareness and supporting other non-profit organizations and relief funds. Well, Kenneth Cole can kiss that reputation good-bye.

As a result of the tweet:

  • A window cling prank sprung up in the middle of the night at Kenneth Cole’s SOMA location
  • A #KennethColeTweets hashtag was created where the Twitterverse joined in on mocking Cole’s offensive tweet
  • A fake Twitter account (@KennethColePR) was made tweeting similarly (and far more) inappropriate tweets such as:

YIKES!

Kenneth Cole issued an apology on his Facebook page saying, “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."

As marketers, we know that joining the conversation can be an effective marketing tactic. But Kenneth, I’m sure you now know, there is a time and a place.