Kenneth Cole's Syria tweet has Internet in uproar

The designer appears to use the showdown over chemical weapons as an opportunity to sell shoes. This isn't the first time he's waded into controversy.

By Kim Peterson Sep 5, 2013 4:52PM
Kenneth Cole tweet (@Kenneth Cole via Twitter)Shoe designer Kenneth Cole has struck again, this time with an awkward tweet that appears to use the Syrian conflict to sell shoes.

There's plenty of debate over whether any U.S. action in Syria would involve ground troops. President Obama has said he's weighing a limited action with no "boots on the ground" in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack allegedly from Bashar Assad's government that killed 1,429 people.

Boots? Did someone mention boots? That was all it took for Cole to respond with this on Twitter: "'Boots on the ground' or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers." He added the #footwear hashtag, just in case we didn't get it.

Within hours, the Internet was pitching a collective fit. Here's some of the reaction to Cole's words:
  • "The @KennethCole PR team is apparently incompetent when it comes to tweeting."
  • "1,429 casualties from sarin gas. Speaking of which, don't be a fashion casualty this fall..."
  • "Husband and family dead in a gas attack? Get that perfect funeral dress, now on sale!"
  • "Oh @KennethCole! How I wish you would have rethought that tweet before you hit send! #tasteless"
Cole has stepped into it before on Twitter, most notably with a February 2011 message about Egypt that went like this: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." He later apologized on Facebook for the comments, according to Adweek. The controversy "became part of every case study on terrible corporate tweeting," Adweek added.

So why would Cole make the same mistake again with Syria? Perhaps it's not a mistake at all, but something that Cole knew would make him a Twitter star, albeit a reviled one, for a day. Adweek may be on to something with this theory: "Repeating the mistake is so odd, it must be. . . intentional?"

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Sep 6, 2013 12:55AM

The folks at Kenneth Cole know there will be US boots on the ground in Syria if we go to war.  They cleverly used advertising to oppose the war - and they have a right to do that.


i wish more companies would take a stance.  

Sep 5, 2013 5:29PM
Here's the prescription for Kenneth Cole: Open mouth, insert heel of hobnail boot.
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