Watching a Brand Unravel in 8 hours

I think the Kenneth Cole Twitter comment this morning is a great example of how fast social media can damage a brand and how a quick response is key to effective damage control. This blog was posted about eight hours after the original @KennethCole Tweet and it will be interesting to see how things evolve in the next few days. Below is a timeline on how fast the whole thing unraveled. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion…

*Some of the times may not be exact, I was working with some things being posted eastern time and some at mountain time…but, regardless of timezone, the fury was fast and the backlash intense.

7:56am: This tweet is posted:

9:36am: The @KennethColePR Twitter account is created aimed to mock the brand with inappropriate references to world events.

9:51am: The first apology from the real Kenneth Cole Tweeter account is issued:


11:47am: The Huff Post Story breaks

Kenneth Cole Tweet Uses #Cairo to Promote Spring Collection

11:51am: CNBC Story is posted

Kenneth Cole Puts Well-Heeled Foot in Mouth

12:47: NY Daily News story comes out

Kenneth Cole sparks online furor with joke tweet that Egypt protests spurred by fashion frenzy

1:00pm: @KennethColePR has over 1,500 followers (in just about four hours!)

1:07: Mashable Story

Kenneth Cole’s #Cairo Tweet Angers the Internet

1:15pm: 22 very angry posts have been made to the Kenneth Cole Facebook page. The brand does not respond.

1:20pm: TechCrunch Story

@KennethCole Sets New Bar For Social Media Stupidity

1:23: AOL Story

Kenneth Cole’s Egypt Tweet Offends Just About Everyone on Twitter

1:27pm: This apology is posted on Facebook and referred to on Twitter.


Really, it took you 6 hours to come up with this?


Also, instead of responding individually to the very angry, passionate comments on Facebook, Kenneth Cole just copied and pasted the same thing that they tweeted. Don’t you think that something you did that really offended people deserves a personal response to your followers?


2:15pm: @KennethColePR has 2,409 followers and continues to post inappropriate (but hilarious!) Tweets. (If you’re counting, that almost 1,000 new followers in one hour!)

2:34pm: Kenneth Cole posted the apology on a discussion forum. There are now 86 comments on his apology and no response – no discussion – from the brand. I don’t see the reason in him posting his statement in a discussion forum unless he had the intension to discuss this with people.

2:34pm: 2,989 followers of @KennethColePR

3:45pm: @KennethColePR has 3,934 followers

There are many more articles about the subject and many more angry comments on Twitter and Facbook about the situation than are on this timeline ( I could have waited and gone through all of them, but with social media, timing is important, a-hem). As of 3:35pm MST, there were 146 news articles on the topic in Google.

There are three lessons we can all learn from this.

  1. Nothing can ever be undone anymore—even if you delete that Tweet, it is still out there on thousands of people’s Tweetdecks.
  2. Information is spreading faster and faster. In a mind bogglingly short time frame – from about 8am ET this morning to 5pm ET – there have been over 140 news articles, 35 comments on Facebook and too many negative Twitter mentions to count.
  3. Quick and thoughtful response to situations like this is key- everyone says and does stupid things and people and brands are remembered more for how they respond to those actions rather than for the fact that you made them. Kenneth Cole’s very short response copied and pasted to everyone doesn’t show compassion or real remorse for his actions.  It’s disingenuous and insincere.

I believe in individual attention on social media. If people are so offended that they write a note on your wall, they deserve an individual response.


Photo by N-trash/