Kenneth Cole is a businessman who began his American shoes company 30 years ago. Sometimes politically ironic and irreverent, yet always socially conscious and relevant, Cole’s advertising has touched on everything from gun safety to cloning to abortion and AIDS. He was one of the first people to use advertising campaigns to speak out about AIDS in 1985, two years before President Reagan officially acknowledged the health crisis. Mr Cole has recently been in the media because of his tweets which made light of the conflict in Syria: “Boots on the ground,” or “let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers #Footwear.” (Cole was making reference to the phrase “boots on the ground,” used by both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry).
While Cole thought that was an appropriate tweet, many people didn’t, and Cole faced a torrent of criticism. Cole has confirmed that he writes most of the tweets on the @KennethCole account himself and admits that he purposely ups the ante on social media and adverts, while keeping the fashion messages more toned down.
There is a lot more to Kenneth Cole than controversial tweets. There’s ‘AWEARNESS The Kenneth Cole Foundation,’ a retail program to raise money to support charitable initiatives worldwide. The current program, which runs from until 22 September, encourages customers to donate $10 in Kenneth Cole retail stores and online at kennethcole.com when at checkout. As a thank you for donating, customers receive a 20 per cent discount off their full-price purchase.
AWEARNESS The Kenneth Cole Foundation has supported a wide range of global relief efforts, from the recent funding of the Kenneth Cole Haiti Health Centre, which treats 6,000 patients a year, to donating over two million pairs of shoes and creating four of the six classes of HIV drugs that are keeping people alive.
It also has partnered with Columbia University to develop the Kenneth Cole Community Engagement Program, a groundbreaking social innovation initiative to empower Columbia undergraduates with the necessary skills to become effective agents of change. The program, along with a partnership with Compass Partners, helps to prepare students to make meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and become the new generation of social entrepreneurs and community leaders. This initiative has inspired over 500 young social entrepreneurs through fellowships.
Interestingly and poignantly, Kenneth Cole believes in equal rights and speaking up for minorities and other communities whose civil liberties are compromised or discriminated against. He has often fought controversial issues with controversial messages to raise awareness of injustice in the hope that public opinion can find solutions to help and protect those in need.
Photo Credit: Kenneth Cole Website
- See more at: http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/kenneth-cole-misunderstood#sthash.dAzkl8AT.dpuf