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The ability to fire off a tweet in a matter of seconds without really thinking about the consequences is as much a blessing as a curse. Sometimes it really works, and sometimes the consequences are nothing but embarassing.
New York-based fashion designer Kenneth Cole, famous for his men’s collection of bags and shoes, got it wildly wrong this week with a tweet that was the height of bad taste.
Reaction was instant and scathing across Twitter. Particularly in light of the fact that tweets signed “KC” indicate that they are from the man himself, and not some intern with a dodgy sense of humour.
People began posting mocking tweets pretending to promote Cole clothing or stores with light-hearted references to hurricane-induced flooding in New Orleans and the attack that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City.
Cole seemed to realise he’d stepped into a firestorm and quickly followed up with a tweet which read: “Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC”
Except, of course, making light of a serious situation was exactly what he was doing.
Much of the reaction centered on the fact that Cole does like to court controversy and feels that it’s a good way to grab attention. But, in this case, judging from the follow-up tweet, it seems he realises he went too far, particularly as the situation in Egypt is still unfolding.
In an age when marketing takes place instantly and perceptions of a brand can be built and destroyed in seconds, it makes sense for people without a grasp of a situation not to get involved and chime in with their opinions on it.
Or as Advertising Age put it so succinctly, “just because you have an opinion on everything doesn’t mean you should be sharing it”.