Kenneth Cole is at it again.
A tweet published earlier today is causing another social media firestorm for the fashion company. But the tweet is still online and, rather than apologize, the company founder has already posted a video response saying it was an attempt to raise awareness of what’s going on in Syria.
The company’s tweet referenced — some would say in a mocking way — the current debate over whether the US should get involved in the Syrian conflict by connecting it to fashion products.
“Boots on the ground” or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear
— Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) September 5, 2013
As you can imagine, the tweet is causing backlash from other Twitter users. “Mocking war to sell fashion?,” asks @prtini. “Head, meet desk” says @SabrinaSiddiqui. “Not funny or clever,” tweeted @SarahRapp.
But Cole himself has posted a video response on Instagram, claiming that the tweet (nevermind the #Footwear hashtag and promotional tone) is really an attempt to provoke discussion:
Here’s the text of his message:
I’ve always used my platform to provoke dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war and homelessness. I’m well aware of the risks that come with this approach, and if this encourages further awareness and discussion about critical issues, then all the better.
This isn’t the first time the company has gotten in hot water over tweets tied to serious world events. In early 2011, the company had to apologize after sending out a tweet that read
Millions are in an uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC
Kenneth Cole himself followed up that tweet with an apology that said, in part, “… my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”
Yet there was no apology today in Cole’s video message. That’ll probably leave many consumers thinking the same thing that @ToddRBailey tweeted earlier:
@prtini: @KennethCole is clearly out for cheap shock value. No one could be this stupid twice.
— Todd R. Bailey (@ToddRBailey) September 5, 2013