Friday, February 4, 2011

Kenneth Cole Egypt tweet furore reveals double standard

Famed American clothing designer Kenneth Cole has joined a conga-line of high profile people who've come a cropper on Twitter. His crime was to tweet jokingly about how rioters in Egypt were rushing to get to his latest offerings. The twittersphere went ballistic and he was forced to make a grovelling apology.

It's ironic, because businesspeople and celebs are forever exploiting political issues to promote themselves and flog product. Kenneth Cole himself has done this in the past and it's worked very well for him. He's done the fur-free thing, for instance. (You'll see him on this list.) He's also done his share of campaigning for AIDS awareness. These were clearly good business decisions as much as anything else.

The difference here of course is tone. On Twitter he was being flippant and humorous, and people didn't like that.

So, celebs should remember that violence and human suffering can still be exploited for business purposes. They just have to do it in an earnest, po-faced way. Then they'll get away with it.

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