Is Kenneth Cole Trolling?

How is it possible for Kenneth Cole to write yet another offensive tweet capitalizing on an international conflict? This time, the apparel designer is making no apologies.

In 2011, Cole used the hashtag #Cairo during the Egyptian uprisings:


Cole apologized for that tweet, and Ad Age did a fun summary of events (which I converted into a PowerPoint presentation), showing how quickly the hoopla emerged-and passed.

This time, Cole chose the controversy about Syria to hook into. "Boots on the ground" is a common reference to whether the United States will proceed with a military strike on Syria.

Kenneth-Cole Syria

Reactions on Twitter were swift and harsh, but Cole isn't sorry at all. He issued this statement to CNBC and posted a video to Instagram

"For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy 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."

Discussion Starters:

  • Did Kenneth Cole do as he says and purposely promote "a healthy dialogue"? Did he forget? Is he insensitive? Too proud to apologize a second time? Or, as some suspect, was he trolling?
  • What's your view of Cole's statement and video? What do you make of his creating a video in this situation?
  • This is Cole's Twitter description: "Designer, Aspiring Humanitarian, Frustrated Activist, Social Networker In Training." Should he change it?