Gini Dietrich

Kenneth Cole Demonstrates How Not to Use Twitter

By: Gini Dietrich | February 4, 2011 | 
160

We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FollowFriday to bring you the Kenneth Cole Twitter fiasco. Typically I would wait until Monday to write about it, but it’s unfolding as I write this and it’s too important to wait. Plus…it’s a PR nightmare and you all know how much I love a good crisis!

But, first. Allow me to tell you a story about Habitat, the furniture company based in the U.K.

In July 2009, they hired an intern to help them with their social media efforts. And the intern, rightfully so, thought he/she would look at the trending topics to see if there was something he/she could use in tweets.

Turns out there was. And it was big!

The company began tweeting a chance to win a gift card (worth about $2,000) with a link to some pretty juicy news… the deadly protests in Iran after the disputed presidential election. Bad enough in its own right. But they used the hashtag #mousavi, so when people were searching for information on the protests, they instead found the Habitat contest. To say people were angry is putting it mildly. And Habitat was put on serious defense.

Now. Fast forward 18 months and another well-known brand has made the same mistake.

Yesterday morning we had a Project Jack Bauer team meeting and, when I got back to my desk, Sean McGinnis had DM’d me a tweet from Kenneth Cole. Thinking he was trying to get on my good side and sending me a shoe sale, I clicked on it (he called me Gumby on Facebook and I threatened to egg his house – don’t ask).

What I found, instead, is the tweet below.

Um. What? Using what’s happening in Egypt to promote your new spring collection? Seriously?

I know a lot of people will argue that this did exactly what the company intended – to get us all talking. And others will say I’m playing into that strategy by blogging about it. And others will say there is no such thing as bad PR.

But there is such a thing as bad PR. Even if Kenneth Cole, himself, posts a mea culpa.

This is a perfect example of why Spin Sucks. People have a horrible perception of the PR industry because of crap like this. And that’s what it is. C-R-A-P.

Public relations is meant to build awareness that drives sales. It is not meant to build awareness for the sake of people saying your name. Or blogging about you. Bad PR is BAD PR. It’s not good.

Maybe it won’t hurt sales. Maybe some people will be grateful to be reminded of how much they love his shoes and clothes. Maybe it won’t bother people outside the social media bubble one bit. But maybe it will create boycotts. And maybe it will decrease sales. And that, folks, is BAD PR.

Anytime you have to issue an apology and interrupt your work growing your business, that is bad PR. No matter how many people are talking about you.

I’m not going to give Kenneth Cole a lesson in crisis driven by something stupid said on Twitter. Lots of people have already done that. Instead I recommend doing your flipping research so you don’t make the same mistakes as an intern did 18 months ago.

Update: 8:14 a.m. on Friday, February 4: Someone found a window decal in a Kenneth Cole store of the tweet. It seems Dino Dogan is correct…this was planned and I have now lost all faith in humanity. Bad PR sucks. Spin Sucks. And Kenneth Cole sucks.

Update: 8:19 a.m. on Friday, February 4 (I’m obsessed): Jeremiah Owyang is asking some intelligent questions and not getting a response from anyone, including Kenneth Cole. They might return his call – he’s a big deal. They’d just ignore me. So go, Jeremiah, go!

Can you help confirm how this was done? I’m having a hard time believing they would do this for a few reasons:

1) why would they put campaign copy on a window with the Twitter chrome?

2) The corporate website didn’t reflect the Cario language.

3) I’m not seeing any other images online that confirm this.

4) in the second picture (see top right) the copy interferes with visualization of the product display –advertising-wise, it just doesn’t make sense for the store front.

5) Given the trauma to the brand, no chance the store would have kept this up for a full day and into the night.

This could be: A decal someone slapped on the window (the coloring is a bit off from the KC logo) or a photoshop (per Hugger below), or a real KC campaign (which I doubt)

(I’m often wrong, but just want to double check before drawing conclusions)

Update: 12:18 p.m. on Friday, February 4: Decal is Photoshopped on to the store window. My view of humanity is beginning to be restored…a bit.

Update: 5:37 p.m. on Friday, February 4: Turns out the decal was NOT Photoshopped and this seems to be an intentional campaign to get people talking. Now I have an entirely different blog post to write. It’s going to be titled: Dear Kenneth Cole, SPIN SUCKS and so do you.

Update: 6:22 p.m. on Friday, February 4: The photos were real, but pranksters put them up, not Kenneth Cole. My head hurts now.

P.S. I’ll do this week’s #FollowFriday at noon today and the Top Five tomorrow for your weekend reading.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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160 responses to “Kenneth Cole Demonstrates How Not to Use Twitter”

  1. JaimieField says:

    Anyone who says even bad PR is good is an idiot! The sad thing, Gini is that KC’s stock went up 2.5% yesterday after this.

  2. kkryski says:

    Great post!

  3. Interesting these PR fiascos. I am going to play devil’s advocate and ask how much does bad PR really hurt these brands?
    Is there a way to really measure the direct impact on sales?
    Is the new collection going to fall flat on its face?
    Yes, it’s a communication SNAFU but did it really create a loss of revenue for KC?

    I think we need to really contrast these SM blunders with real life brand disasters (BP oil spill, Tiger Wood’s extraconjugal affairs) which do no go away and truly affect the trust people show towards the brand and the bottom line.

    Just like you said, rightly that Egypt’s protest wasn’t a byproduct of Web 2.0, let’s not give too much weight to how much damage a tweet can really do.
    How many shoppers did KC loose because of this message? He issued an apology and I if anything I have also read some tweeps who think its funny (even though in bad taste).

    As you said Gini, Are we only ready the blogs and tweets of those who agree with us and creating our little storms in our twitter world? 😉

  4. nteresting these PR fiascos. I am going to play devil’s advocate and ask how much does bad PR really hurt these brands? Is there a way to really measure the direct impact on sales? Is the new collection going to fall flat on its face? Yes, it’s a communication SNAFU but did it really create a loss of revenue for KC?
    I think we need to really contrast these SM blunders with real life brand disasters (BP oil spill, Tiger Wood’s extraconjugal affairs) which do no go away and truly affect the trust people show towards the brand and the bottom line.
    Just like you said, rightly that Egypt’s protest wasn’t a byproduct of Web 2.0, let’s not give too much weight to how much damage a tweet can really do. How many shoppers did KC loose because of this message? He issued an apology and I have also read some tweeps who think it’s funny (even though in bad taste).
    As you said Gini, are we only reading the blogs and tweets of those who agree with us and creating our little storms in our twitter world? 😉

  5. ParkRidgeDDS says:

    Excellent. I often worry after I have pushed send that I might have “said” the wrong thing….it is difficult even for a small business to engage and yet always remain appropriate and not offend anyone…a balancing act for sure. I have had “senders remorse” on several occasions and I can only hope that the minute KC pushed send, that icy chill of “senders remorse” ran down his spine. Maybe…

  6. dino_dogan says:

    @JaimieField Unn Freaking Believable

  7. ginidietrich says:

    @dino_dogan @JaimieField Did it really go up after this? There is something wrong in this world.

    Hi Dino! And….happy birthday, Jaimie!

  8. ginidietrich says:

    @kkryski Thanks! I’m waiting for the, “But Gini, you did exactly what they wanted you to do” comments.

  9. ginidietrich says:

    @johnfalchetto I definitely think we live in our own bubble and get riled up about this kind of stuff. And, typically, I would ignore it. But yesterday I got so mad about these people who think any PR is good. It’s EXACTLY why I write this blog so I couldn’t let it go. And…I hope his sales do decrease. It would serve him right and then maybe we wouldn’t have clients say, “I don’t know why you won’t do this for us? Kenneth Cole did it and their sales increased.” Because then I have to have the ethical conversation instead of a business strategy conversation.

  10. ginidietrich says:

    @ParkRidgeDDS I’ve had senders remorse twice and, I’m with you, it’s not a fun feeling. I can only hope this wasn’t actually him sending the tweet, but some inexperienced pro who didn’t know better.

  11. dino_dogan says:

    I dont think for a second that the apology wasnt pre planned. All measurements of good/bad/indifferent PR are tenuous at best, so the only way to measure the impact is the number of mouths saying/writing KenethCole in the social blogosphere. And from the PR firm’s perspective. mission accomplished.

    The new thing in communications is the CEO apology. Dominos CEO is promising us to learn how to make a better pizza. Really? Dominos hasnt figured it out yet? #GTFOH

    Dont get me started on BP’s CEO apology.

    When CEO take the “responsibility” it makes them appear “human”. “oh..we make mistakes, guys..Im sorry”, with the subtext of being “see, Im one of you, you can trust me”. Forgive me Gini for cussing on your blog but in this case only one phrase will do . Fuck them.

    The entire length of this PR campaigns -which is ongoing- has been pre-planned. From the tweet to apology and beyond. I’ll never buy a pair of KC’s ever again.

  12. ginidietrich says:

    @dino_dogan LMAO on Dominos! My poor naive eyes! I really hope you’re wrong. I really, really do. This Utah-born girl really wants to believe the best in people and that this was a mistake by some inexperienced pro who didn’t know better. But, if you’re right, my faith in humanity has dropped again and I, also, will never buy anything from them again. It won’t even be hard to walk past their Michigan Avenue store without stopping. I may even flip them the bird.

  13. @ginidietrich Yep I agree it has more to do with CSR then sales or marketing.
    But what is your social responsibility when you sell overpriced clothes? Could you be an insensitive snob marketing your product by using anorexic teenage girls as models?

    As a sales technique it seemed to have worked, the stock went up. The stunt also created a lot of talk (here we are) but in a way you can look at it as ‘PR terrorism.’

    You hit an ethical weak spot to further your cause. Do the means justify the ends? Oh how far we are from handbags and shoes.

  14. @ginidietrich
    Yep I agree it has more to do with CSR then sales or marketing. But what is your social responsibility when you sell overpriced clothes? Could you be an insensitive snob marketing your product by using anorexic teenage girls as models?
    As a sales technique it seemed to have worked, the stock went up. The stunt also created a lot of talk (here we are) but in a way you can look at it as ‘PR terrorism.’
    You hit an ethical weak spot to further your cause. Does the end justify the means? Oh! how far we are from handbags and shoes.

  15. kkryski says:

    @ginidietrich I don’t think you’ll get much of that. My guess, it was an error in judgement rather than a PR stunt. Perhaps not, though.

    As for their stock increasing… that may have just been unfortunate timing rather than as a result of his twitter post. Maybe I just have too much hope for humanity? haha

  16. Area224 says:

    I, however, have faith in humanity. After recent brand stupidity, the people spoke with their wallets: Amazon and Etsy both came to their senses after lots of pressure. And scores of people will no doubt stop buying from Kenneth.

    Note: it is considered an insult in the Arab world to remove your shoes and wave them in the air. It happened earlier this week in Egypt, and now it’s virtually happening to KC himself.

    Humanity 1, Ken 0.

  17. MatchesMalone says:

    Confusing that you say things that aren’t true, at least, in my case…. Unless of course, I am attempting to sell something, in which case, I’m doing it wrong.

  18. patrickreyes says:

    I’m still amazed. Speechless actually. Anyway, some of the comments below talked about sender’s remorse. I was at a conference last October. One of the things that has stuck with me from it was, “Eat it before you tweet it.” Think about what you’re going to post before hitting enter!

    Now my question to you and your readers…how do you mitigate bad PR when a fake twitter account is set up? http://twitter.com/#!/KennethColePR

  19. patrickreyes says:

    AND…have you seen the comments on the wall of the Kenneth Cole facebook page? Yikes!

  20. ginidietrich says:

    @patrickreyes Look at my updates (just posted). If this was planned, as it seems it was now, the fake Twitter account and bad PR surrounding is deserved.

  21. ginidietrich says:

    @Area224 I really, really hope their sales are affected by this insanity. I just posted some updates. It’s really beginning to look like they planned this.

  22. ginidietrich says:

    @MatchesMalone What do you mean? Now I’m confused. 🙂

  23. ginidietrich says:

    @MatchesMalone OH wait. I see…”you” as in Kenneth Cole (I thought you meant me).

  24. EricaAllison says:

    Unbelievable! And I completely agree…Bad PR is BAD PR!!! I’ve often had to correct client perceptions about that one. “Well at least they’re talking about us, right? ” Heck, NO. They’re talking to their friends about how awful you are and why they should not buy your shoes, eat your food, or buy your gas. Come on, KC! What gives? I’ll be back later as this progresses…

  25. pacebutlercorp says:

    Great stuff as usual Gini. I don’t shop solely (pun intended) by brand so I can’t say I’ve actually ever purchased KC shoes, but I probably won’t now. I kind of feel like this might be equated the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I hope not, but if their stock went up 2.5% @JaimieField who knows. I don’t know if this will keep people from buying his shoes or not, but I do think people just think he’s an idiot for saying what he did. He just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that I would want to have lunch with.

  26. forfeng says:

    That decal is VERY clearly photoshopped, I don’t even need to look hard, Go to large or original view and look, you don’t have to look hard to see the inconsistencies.

  27. 3HatsComm says:

    @ginidietrich @patrickreyes The fake Twitter account is run by someone. Yes it’s bad now but like the fake BP PR account, interest will eventually fade and the tweets will slow down, people will turn their attention elsewhere.. to the next PR flub.

  28. JulioRVarela says:

    Gini, this has been some week for DA POSSE. This Kenneth Cole story reeks of typical old media approach to new media. I have been so busy with TOP GEAR BBC story (thank you, BBC, for your errors, love, my blog) that I missed this story. 2011 is going to be some year!

  29. JulioRVarela says:

    This is key:

    Anytime you have to issue an apology and interrupt your work growing your business, that is bad PR. No matter how many people are talking about you.

    Yup. The BBC did the same thing with TOP GEAR and missed the boat. This is going to be a fun weekend!

    Love,
    Julito

  30. MatchesMalone says:

    @ginidietrich No, actually, the you is you. Unless he wrote the article above.

  31. HowieSPM says:

    You hit some great points because I commented yetserday on Nancy Myrland’s blog that you covered here. And we had an exchange about how little communication out of the worlds volume happens on Social Media. In fact chances are with only 6-10mil US daily users of Twitter most people going into a KC store are clueless about what happened. HuffPost has zero on this which would be one of the first places I would see it if it hit mainstream.

    Without rehashing anything aside from that fact that Gumby is cool and I hate eggs BLECHH

    From a PR Pro’s persepctive Nancy and yourself have every right to dissect what happened and how it was handled. I agree I think the sticker was not from the store or KC. I also wonder if this possibly was part of a guerrilla marketing stunt (don’t ever discount when dumb stuff happens that a smarty pants advertising person didn’t conceive it).

    In fact I had some exchanges with Rob Schwartz (Creative Director of TWBA/ChiatDay in Los Angeles that does Apple and Pepi) last year at this time about the Pepsi Refresh and Superbowl. My point since I am an ROI hound was about wasting Brand money and his interesting response was chatter. If the millions spent on the Superbowl just got people talking they considered victory.

    We have endless examples of tactless bad taste originating from people who think initially something is funny. I sense that here. Wasn’t the first, won’t be the last. But as for PR case studies its a perfect one!

  32. JohnAkerson says:

    So – that picture is a photoshop and the twitter account “KennethColePR” is easy to spot as a fake, but it is so very, very negative.

    Kenneth Cole opened the door for that nightmare to drive through. Kenneth Cole (or a rep) setup the URL on Bit.ly http://www.bit.ly/KCairo (which still works) and Kenneth Cole wrote on his twitter account, long ago, that “Thoughts that are end in -KC are from me personally.” That information is STILL on *his* twitter account. That tweet ended in -KC. It is fine to have humor, and be a bit snarky, but that ends where human suffering begins.
    You make the point well, Gini: This is a huge learning opportunity for a lesson that should have been already learned. It is also a teaching point for people who still may learn from it.

    If there was an earthquake in say, Winnett, Montana- and thousands of people on Twitter were following the #WMquake tag, that would not be the time to say “Prices are falling at Walmart go to bit.ly/WMquake for specials!” That seems simple enough… perhaps put it into words, and insert in every company’s social media plan something like this:
    Unless used to assist, raise funds, or contribute in a transparently positive way, Social media, and in particular any “Call to Action” – cannot ever be tied, linked, or referred to, from or by any tragedy, political unrest, famine, civil war, or any collectively negative human event. Period.

  33. ShellyKramer says:

    Gini, totally photoshopped! I wrote a post about it this this morning, but pulled it when I realized it was a fake. But great thoughts here, nonetheless :))

  34. MatchesMalone says:

    @patrickreyes I don’t have any firsthand experience with this, so, I wouldn’t know how to handle it. When someone figures out who I am, then it might be an issue. If not an entire subscription 😉

  35. Adrian_Dayton says:

    I’ll be honest, when I first saw the Keneth Cole tweet, I thought it was pretty funny. I don’t see the big deal.

    Clearly many people were very offended by the joke, but I don’t see it.

  36. wabbitoid says:

    I would like to ask you to revist this later to see what the long-term fallout is. Yesterday this drove me to look up Cook’s Source to see what’s happened with them – and there has been zero follow-up on that disaster. Cole will get theirs, no doubt, but I think the long-term is where we find out what this kind of too-clever-by-more-than-half mistake really costs.

  37. pacebutlercorp says:

    @Adrian_Dayton I understand where you are coming from as that was my first initial reaction. After realizing the gravity of the situation (an entire country trying to liberate itself from an oppressive regime) it angered me as an American just as much as it was a bad PR choice. The entire rest of the world reads things like that and thinks, “Typical Americans”. I would urge you to go read more about the situation as I think you might be a bit uniformed.

  38. dustinasmith says:

    As I wrote about on my personal blog, I’m afraid that people and organizations do not understand that social media sites like Twitter do the same thing that a traditional press release would do. Before, press releases would be sent out that have been labored over, but now with social media sites, messages are left up to 140 characters that can often come off as extremely unprofessional and mis-guiding for the organization.

    We need to see social media as something more than just those 140 characters. We need to realize that those 140 characters can make or break an organization and before posting a tweet or status update on Facebook, we should ask ourselves, “is this something I’d want the news to report?”

  39. NationRanch says:

    I view this as a case of gaming the system to drive chatter, which is something our friends in the “news” business have been doing for years. Too bad it’s leaked into our profession. Paul Farhi of the American Journalism Review http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4900 published an article on the practice of placing titilating headlines to drive eyeballs (and ad revenues), while burying the “real news” elsewhere on their Websites. The very fact that we’re using up so much oxygen talking about KC unfortunately justifies this sort of thing in the eyes of misguided marketers. The apocalypse is nigh.

  40. Debra_Ellis says:

    Gini,

    I’m glad you decided to post. Using the tweet (campaign???) as a teaching opportunity is helpful. (As compared to all of the Kenneth Cole you’re @#$% commentary out there.)

    We need more teaching, less ugliness.

    Thank you.

  41. Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  42. RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  43. All I have to say about KC right now is #fail RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  44. @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C” Great post! The window decal changed things. #KCPR

  45. ginidietrich says:

    @Debra_Ellis Oh yeah. I would never call them names (except maybe dummies). My issue is in what it does to the perception of the PR industry. THAT gets me fired up!

  46. ginidietrich says:

    @NationRanch I agree. It really is unfortunate it’s leaked into our profession. I’m a little sick to my stomach.

  47. ginidietrich says:

    @dustinasmith SUCH a good point! Releases go through serious review and even the legal department reviews it. If you have a campaign that you really want to promote through social media, the same care should be taken. Smart, smart, smart.

  48. ginidietrich says:

    @wabbitoid Really great point about Cook’s Source (didn’t they close their doors?). I will definitely do a follow-up post about it. I’m really angry.

  49. Wow. RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  50. ginidietrich says:

    @pacebutlercorp @Adrian_Dayton That was my initial reaction, too. I mean, I clicked on the link to see if there was a shoe sale! But when I realized what they had hashtagged with, my PR crisis brain went into overload. Now it sounds like it may have been planned. That makes me sick.

  51. ginidietrich says:

    @ShellyKramer Thanks – I’ll write another update.

  52. ginidietrich says:

    @JohnAkerson Thank you for the addition to a company’s social media policy! I’m going to use that when I speak…and will credit you!

  53. Adrian_Dayton says:

    @pacebutlercorp I can be informed and still think it is funny when people interject comedy into a tragic situation. It is funny because it is such a tragic situation. There is nothing funny about genocide, but whenever anybody says, “this is the worst!” – my brother shakes his head and says “what about genocide?” It always brings a laugh, but not because there is anything funny about genocide.

  54. Adrian_Dayton says:

    @ginidietrich @pacebutlercorp I don’t know that it could have been planned… I mean it was planned to be semi-funny joke, but you never know how people are going to react online.

  55. ginidietrich says:

    @EricaAllison I’m adding updates as I get them. And I’ll revisit in a month or so to see what this did to KC and their sales.

  56. ginidietrich says:

    @MatchesMalone So then I’m confused again. I’m saying things that aren’t true?

  57. ginidietrich says:

    @kkryski I hope it was just unfortunate timing!

  58. ginidietrich says:

    @johnfalchetto And I love their stuff, too. Mr. D would agree with you on the marketing by using anorexic teenage girls. But I stick with what I know – PR. 🙂

  59. RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C :: great post Gini

  60. ginidietrich says:

    @pacebutlercorp As a consumer, I will continue shopping if they come out and admit it was a silly mistake by someone inexperience. I will not continue shopping there if this was done intentionally.

  61. ginidietrich says:

    @JulioRVarela Poor picked on giant corporations.

  62. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Thanks for saying Gumby is cool! seanmcginnis ! You hear that?!

  63. Great perspective RT @ginidietrich Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  64. RT @JoshfromMaine: “@ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C” Great post! The window decal changed things. #KCPR

  65. A storm in a twitter cup? RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  66. hackmanj says:

    The photoshop job on that fake decal is pretty convincing. I knew you’d have a lot to say about this. What do you make of Kenneth Cole basically taking full responsibility for the Tweet. Do you think it was really his idea or do you think he’s just doing the “take responsibility” approach?

  67. SeanMcGinnis says:

    @ginidietrich @HowieSPM Sure thing. Gumby’s the bomb alright…. 😉

  68. J_Lay says:

    Jokes are meant to remain in a tight nit circle and not outside in the business world. This is a perfect example that people in life are sometimes a little too serious. But they have every right to be so. Perfect example of people enjoying work http://www.protisei.com. Why would even posting something like this cross his mind? Sometimes its just frustrating.

  69. Rick_LaPoint says:

    Hi Gini,

    Before today, although I had heard the name, Kenneth Cole, I had no idea who they were or what they do.

    And down the road, long after I have again forgotten who they are and what they do, I WILL remember that they did this.

    Funny how some things stick and some things don’t.

    Rick

  70. @ginidietrich Yes Gini and this is why I love Spinsucks, there should be some ethics in marketing and PR campaigns. Have a great weekend!

  71. Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  72. The PR nightmare continues…RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  73. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  74. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  75. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  76. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter when every tweet counts for your brand http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  77. RT @MargaretatIOC: RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  78. Did exactly what the company intended? – Get em talking? Blog strategy? No such thing as bad PR?

    What about just plain old common sense that your brand being associated with ‘tasteless’ in ten, a thousand, or million + consumers minds is not good for business?

    What were they thinking?

    Really not well thought out here… What an idiotic thing to do!

  79. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  80. Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C rt @ginidietrich

  81. Morgan says:

    @ginidietrich @dustinasmith I’m not sure if you’d want to take it as far as having every tweet be reviewed by the legal dpt – so much of social media is time based, that half of your tweets would be out of date before they’re approved. Still, if more comanies had legitimate training for new hires working with their SoMe, we’d see a lot less of this thing (“and now class, we’re going to talk about best Twitter practices, and the common pitfalls!”)

  82. RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C …Wow!

  83. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  84. What a cluster freak: RT @ginidietrich Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  85. Read @ginidietrich ‘s lessons on Twitter mistakes from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  86. ginidietrich says:

    @Morgan @dustinasmith I wasn’t necessarily thinking your tweets had to be approved (that would be nightmarish). Rather thinking through an entire campaign, including what the messages in the tweets are before you hit send. We do this with all of our clients, while allowing room for personality and authenticity.

  87. ginidietrich says:

    @hackmanj It seems disingenuous to me. Like, “OK! OK! I give in!”

  88. Nice post – RT @joannekan via @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  89. ginidietrich says:

    @J_Lay FUNNY! That is EXACTLY what martinwaxman said when we chatted about it earlier.

  90. ginidietrich says:

    @Rick_LaPoint I have lots of clothes and shoes from Kenneth Cole. I am a fan. Well. I was a fan. But your point is a good one about what sticks and what doesn’t stick.

  91. ginidietrich says:

    @GACConsultants I. Agree.

  92. RT @johnfalchetto: Read @ginidietrich ‘s lessons on Twitter mistakes from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  93. Elyse_D says:

    Hi Gini,

    PR Crisis indeed! My co-worker pulled some data on Kenneth Cole’s social media stats and it is absolutely dismal. One of the fun parts about working for a social media monitoring company – you get to pull the numbers out of curiosity. Let me know if you want me to send you the graphs – they are interesting to say the least.

    To give you an idea….
    The word cloud includes some of these lovelies: fail fake anger outrage oops uproar apologizes insensitive.

    You get the point. Bad Bad Bad! If this was a “campaign”, I don’t think it was a success.

    – Elyse DeVries
    Marketing Specialist
    Alterian
    @Elyse_D

  94. […] – and something that we would see more brands doing in the future. Gini Dietrich laments that Spin Sucks and this kind of tactic is what makes people distrust PR and the people who spin. She also updated […]

  95. RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  96. NoudW says:

    Well, tasteless as it may be, it is a sticky story indeed. And that is not so strange. For a story to get sticky it needs to meet at least three out of six of the following criteria: It must be simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, emotional and a story. (Thanks, Chip and Dan Heath). Offcourse if the KC Tweet was written about any other happening it would never have gotten this attention.
    One can make jokes just about anything, but not for plain commerce. This Sticky Story will be remembered for a long period of time. And in its own way, it will help others not to make this misstake (I hope). Gini, good piece, thx!

  97. mirbiz says:

    LOL! @ “he called me Gumby on Facebook and I threatened to egg his house.”

    I agree that this was a stupid thing to do, but due to the fact that there was no malice (imo at least) I don’t think it will really hurt them.

    I wrote about the McDonald’s/Adrian Peterson PR fiasco. I still don’t understand what the f the person who fired the woman was thinking. Firing a person for such a petty thing in this economy aside, how f’n stupid do you have to be not to see it backfiring?

    That said, that was a much more public than this and I bet Adrian Peterson jersey sales and that the particular McDonald’s location are doing fine.

    In our society, we punish malice and intent.

    Kenneth Cole (company) made a stupid joke. It’s a statement that’s so ridiculous that it cannot be taken seriously. Obviously the people in Egypt are not rioting about Kenneth Cole. This was clearly a joke.

    IT WAS A STUPID MOVE, however, the sad fact is that just like I didn’t give a crap who Kenneth Cole was before, I (along with most other people) will continue to purchase Kenneth Cole stuff despite this.

    Gini if you go to the store and see some awesome Kenneth Cole product, are you going to be like, “no, they made that tasteless joke?” You are buying, or not buying, the clothes due to comfort and style — at least that why I do. If we were going to be bothered by anything, why not the sweatshops companies use to manufacture our clothes?

    I’m sure it may affect some, but I don’t think it was a KILLER mistake. If I was handling their PR, I would suggest they donate money to a non-political cause that benefits the people of Egypt and not address this anymore.

    I get what you mean though, by not understanding how something like this could be published (Tweeted, Posted, etc.) It just goes to show how much more careful companies need to be in this day and age about who and what they allow to publish using their name.

  98. mirbiz says:

    @NoudW I disagree, but we’ll see.

  99. ginidietrich says:

    @mirbiz LOL! I can’t believe you were the first person to point out the Gumby/egg comment. I like you even more now!

    Women and men are MUCH different in how they shop. I actually won’t buy KC anymore (and I have a lot of his stuff in my closet) because of this. If it was a stupid mistake, I’ll forgive. If it ends up they did this on purpose, they’ll never see another dime from me.

    Now that it’s been 24 hours, I’m beginning to lean toward what @J_Lay said…he thought he was being funny and it turned out to be a really stupid idea. We’ve all done it. I’d love to hear that from him, though.

  100. ginidietrich says:

    @NoudW I hope it does help others not to make this mistake. Maybe the Habitat thing was too old and I remember it because I”m in the business. We’ll see what happens…if anything at all.

  101. ginidietrich says:

    @Elyse_D Oh I freaking love that! I’d love to see the graphics – it would make an awesome follow-up piece.

  102. mirbiz says:

    @ginidietrich @J_Lay you’d love to hear from him, but if you were advising him, wouldn’t you tell him not to respond? The apology on the website should be the last the company speaks of this fiasco.

  103. ginidietrich says:

    @mirbiz Nooo! If I were advising him, I would have him come out and come clean. I’d have him tweeting about it. I’d have him do a video. I’d have him say, “You know, I thought this would be funny, but I wasn’t thinking and it was really stupid. I’m very sorry.” His “apology” seems very disingenuous to me. It’s very, “OK! OK! You got me!”

  104. ryanknapp says:

    @ginidietrich @Morgan @dustinasmith I do the same at NSCAA and with other projects I’ve worked with. Specific to a certain campaign there are tweets we have in place to make sure we get the most out of the 140 characters and it’s on point with the right mesaging.

  105. mirbiz says:

    @ginidietrich I’m not so sure that’s the best strategy. The company has apologized and acknowledged it was a mistake. Either the people accept it or they don’t. Anything more would just give the company more negative publicity.

  106. ginidietrich says:

    @mirbiz I don’t think a tweet is an apology. Not in this kind of uproar. It feels like he’s burying his head until it all goes away.

  107. mirbiz says:

    @ginidietrich @NoudW this will be sticky in that if you search Twitter PR mistakes. However, if you are looking up Kenneth Cole, etc., I don’t think it will stick with them.

    Gini, I get what you mean by if it was planned . . . but even if it was, the company will make it seem like it was a failed joke attempt by some person who was in charge of the company’s Twitter account. For this reason, it is hard to hold the company responsible for the action of an employee.

  108. ginidietrich says:

    @mirbiz Turns out…it was intentional. I’ll be updating the blog in a second http://www.v3im.com/2011/02/kenneth-cole-tweet-not-an-accident-but-a-campaign/

  109. mirbiz says:

    @ginidietrich@NoudW
    this will be sticky in that if you search Twitter PR mistakes. However, if you are looking up Kenneth Cole, etc., I don’t think it will stick with them.
    Gini, I get what you mean by if it was planned . . . but even if it was, the company will make it seem like it was a failed joke attempt by some person who was in charge of the company’s Twitter account.

    I just saw you post that “It was intentional.” I have to catch a train to San Diego, but I will check this out before the game on Sunday or Monday.

    Have a good weekend. all!

  110. We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  111. RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  112. RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C BEYOND dumb, Gini

  113. RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  114. OMGSH! Horrible idea! RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF 4 news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  115. Really? WOW. RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF 4 news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  116. RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  117. RT @VeronicaLudwig: Wow. RT @ginidietrich: Kenneth Cole demonstrates how NOT to use Twitter http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  118. #wherewasPR RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  119. Unbelievable RT @ginidietrich: We interrupt your regularly scheduled #FF for news on the dummies at Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  120. […] into the devastating events currently happening in Egypt was picked up and discussed on various PR and marketing blogs and news sites […]

  121. Elyse_D says:

    @ginidietrich Okay, if I just send to global@armentdietrich.com will you get it?

  122. If @dino_dogan is right about Kenneth Cole here, I’ve lost all faith in humanity http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  123. Read this now. RT @ginidietrich: If @dino_dogan is right about Kenneth Cole here, I’ve lost all faith in humanity http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  124. I’ve been obsessed too RT @ginidietrich If @dino_dogan is right about Kenneth Cole here I’ve lost all faith in humanity http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  125. RT @C_Pappas: The PR nightmare continues…RT @ginidietrich: Lessons you can learn about Twitter from Habitat and Kenneth Cole http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  126. RT @ginidietrich: If @dino_dogan is right about Kenneth Cole here, I’ve lost all faith in humanity http://bit.ly/gLJz5C

  127. AbbieF says:

    There are so many things wrong with this KC situation. I’m not sure we’ll ever know – was this planned or a really DUMB move? I do not subscribe to the idea that any publicity is good publicity — that’s even more true in today’s instantaneous 140-character world that we live in. If KC really posted this himself and did not consult his PR team, it is all on him. If he did consult and no one told him this was in bad taste, then fire them all. As PR people we should not be “yes men/women” to our bosses/clients. We are hired to offer strategic counsel and sometimes to tell someone something is just plain wrong.

    Time will tell what the real impact will be.

    And on a side note — Gumby?

  128. ginidietrich says:

    @AbbieF And what’s even more scary, it’s sounding more and more like this was planned. If it was, our industry is about to have a heavy heart. But to wabbitoid point, perhaps there are serious repercussions, like with Cook’s Source.

    And yes…Gumby. He’s mean.

  129. ginidietrich says:

    @Elyse_D If you haven’t already sent it, yes that works. I’ll figure out who that goes to and ask them to forward to me. 🙂

  130. […] me. What would you name the series? It runs every Friday at noon (except this week because of the Kenneth Cole fiasco) and it’s always the top five stories we think you should […]

  131. wabbitoid says:

    @ginidietrich
    I think you’re doing a great job of making sure that repercussions are severe short-erm, but I worry that if they aren’t long-term there will be “all PR is good PR!” excuses used. I know you’ll stay on it (& have a feeling that I don’t ever want to anger you! 🙂 ).

    I take this personally beacuse I cannot believe that anyone smugly thought it could be fashionable to make light of civil unrest. But as I learn more about the mission of SpinSucks the more I can see you have a good fight here that is worth supporting. Sadly, like much of the abuses in politics or reporting, I think the real problem is inherent in our culture.

    It is a good fight and very much taking a stand. Thank you.

  132. LindsayDianne says:

    I read a whole article a couple of weeks ago about how there is this eye glasses company who actually goes out of their way to generate bad press, because google doesn’t yet discriminate what kinds of things are being said in the incoming links, only the rank of the pages who link to you and yours.
    In this way, technically, there is indeed no bad press, and in fact… Like you predicted someone would say… It’s a brilliant ploy to get people yakking.
    I never ever thought about Kenneth Cole until I saw a couple things about this in passing, so if his intention was brand awareness? He’s succeeded.
    If it was inspiring people to purchase his brand? He probably failed.
    Thoughtful post.

  133. […] mad? Everyday I speak to a client or find a new story on the net which I can only describe as a social media car crash, and not a little fender bender, the real Guinness book of records pile […]

  134. […] }else{ $('#dd_ajax_float').hide() } }); });Last week a lot was written about Kenneth Cole’s twitter debacle. Ironically while KC was busy riding the wave of trending topics like #egypt and #jan25, a little […]

  135. ginidietrich says:

    @LindsayDianne Isn’t that company despicable? Since then, though, Google has changed its algorithms so it can discern between the good and the bad. They’re not saying Christina Aguilera sang the wrong words to the Natioanl Athem for publicity sake. One day we’ll get back to bad PR being bad PR.

  136. […] to Enron, Toyota and BP), it can never be good when you or your company name is viewed negatively. Gini Dietrich summed it up nicely with this analysis: Anytime you have to issue an apology and interrupt your […]

  137. […] this has probably not reached the Kenneth Cole level of PR fiascos but the ripples of that brand debacle in the Middle East has now hit the US […]

  138. […] With these 132 characters, designer Kenneth Cole unleashed a worldwide revolt: not against the Egyptian regime, but against the ill-advised use of Twitter. The tweet generated an immediate backlash from social media observers, marketing professionals and fashion bloggers, making Cole an instant poster boy for social media PR gone horribly wrong. […]

  139. […] With these 132 characters, designer Kenneth Cole unleashed a worldwide revolt: not against the Egyptian regime, but against the ill-advised use of Twitter. The tweet generated an immediate backlash from social media observers, marketing professionals and fashion bloggers, making Cole an instant poster boy for social media PR gone horribly wrong. […]

  140. […] Cole tweeted about the Egyptian revolution to promote his new collection, the social web saw red. Gini Dietrich of ArmentDietrich wrote Maybe it won’t bother people outside the social media bubble one bit. But […]

  141. […] Dietrich, Gini. “Kenneth Cole Demonstrates How Not to Use Twitter | Spin Sucks.” Spin Sucks – Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting for Marketing and PR. 04 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Feb. 2011. <http://spinsucks.com/social-media/kenneth-cole-demonstrates-how-not-to-use-twitter/&gt;. […]

  142. […] mad? Everyday I speak to a client or find a new story on the net which I can only describe as a social media car crash, and not a little fender bender, the real Guinness book of records pile […]

  143. […] Twitter. But the thing about being someone who primarily listens online is you see so many people shoot themselves in the foot, that it can a little intimidating.” Am I going to sound like a complete idiot?” you […]

  144. […] Ugly: Kenneth Cole, hands down, gets this award from me. He fell flat on his face when he used the uprising in Egypt […]

  145. […] Tweeting before thinking – We’ve all heard the stories about Kenneth Cole, the Red Cross, and a lot of the other companies that screwed up when they tweeted something they […]

  146. […] talk a lot here about what we would have done if we were counseling News Corp. or Kenneth Cole or Tiger Woods. But, finally, a PR professional got it […]

  147. […] Tweeting before thinking – We’ve all heard the stories about Kenneth Cole, the Red Cross, and a lot of the other companies that screwed up when they tweeted something they […]

  148. […] just write the policy. Actually go through it with your employees. Give them examples like Kenneth Cole, Papa John’s, and Boners BBQ. Talk to them about the importance of being professional, no […]

  149. […] such as Chrysler, Kenneth Cole, and CelebBoutique have all made the mistake of tweeting something offensive from the business […]

  150. […] none of the examples are as tacky as the Kenneth Cole Cairo tweet – and one does offer generators and air mattresses for those affected by the storm – […]

  151. […] also be good for this, as long as they aren’t crisis events. Don’t do something like Kenneth Cole or the Gap did as they tried to take advantage of bad situations, and paid the price for it. […]

  152. […] Usually when something for a Brand goes viral it is because they did something dumb (Chrysler), wrong (BP Oil Spill), or stupid (Kenneth Cole). […]

  153. […] just write the policy. Actually go through it with your employees. Give them examples like Kenneth Cole, Papa John’s, and Boners BBQ. Talk to them about the importance of being professional, no […]

  154. Wow. This was amazing. Have you read this recently? I just came for the link! Seriously your Woodward and Bernstein moment. Even having read this back then it held me suspenseful until the end.

  155. ginidietrich says:

    Howie Goldfarb  Brat.

  156. […] were lots of social media bloopers in 2011: Ragu, Weinergate, Kenneth Cole, Qantas, Ashton Kutcher. I just know there’ll be more in 2012 as brands continue to trip up as […]

  157. […] this means is using the hashtag to build awareness for your cause, like Kenneth Cole did for his new spring collection during the protests in […]

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