Brands & Social Issues

1 Sep

I was reading the September Issue of Marie Claire when I came across an interesting Kenneth Cole advertisement. It was a two page spread that read “Should it be a woman’s right to choose if she’s the one carrying it? -Kenneth Cole”. Underneath the question was a website, On the right page was a woman dressed in Kenneth Cole attire and carrying two large purses. The first time I saw the ad, I immediately picked up on the implications being addressed in the question. His phrasing of “a woman’s right to choose” clearly corresponds to the abortion debate as well as “she’s the one carrying it” meaning a child or fetus or whatever you want to call it. Then I saw the accompanying image and put together that he meant a woman’s right to choose what purse she wants to carry. With the website underneath though, it was clear there was more going on. Intrigued, I went to the website to see what this all was about.

The page I was greeted with was very interesting. It is divided into two sides: what you stand for and what you stand in.

Under “What you stand for” Kenneth explains what he is trying to do with his advertisements. He has started a “series of provocative debates” that seek to “educate and inspire us all to understand relevant social issues from a larger perspective”. The debates are on guns, gay rights, war, and pro-choice. The “what you stand in” side is the apparel side where you can browse his clothing line. I clicked on the left side and was really amazed by what Kenneth has done. He is using all forms of social media and his brand to promote talking about social issues. You can post a comment directly on the page, tweet about it, vote in polls via Facebook, or blog about it and be featured on the page. This is really a novel concept. I know that in today’s day and age social media is all the rage and brands are capitalizing on that by connecting with their consumers in this way. What Kenneth Cole is doing is different though. He is using social media in a way to promote awareness and get people talking about issues that are hard and that have no right or wrong answer. This is the first time I have come across something like this and I think it is remarkable. He is connecting with consumers on a completely different level and for a completely different purpose than to just sell his merchandise. Some of his ads are controversial and run the risk of alienating consumers that err on the side of conservative, but nonetheless he is being true to himself and making the statement that his brand is for those who care about these important social issues and for those who are not afraid to speak their mind and not back down.

To hear from Kenneth himself, watch this clip.



2 Responses to “Brands & Social Issues”

  1. Consumer Instinct (@consumaholic) October 3, 2011 at 1:33 am #


    Good article!

    Social media is such an effective tool, yet so few companies/ brand use it effectively to communicate with the consumer.

    This is a great example of using the brand name to actually do more than sell something. I am sure they might loose some customers, but the loyalty it would get from those who like it more than covers up for it. Also, it gets them extensive publicity and media coverage which is so critical today.

    Ur thoughts?


    • kforster October 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm #


      Thanks! Yes, I agree with you. In today’s world there are so many brands and advertisements we are constantly coming into contact with, that it is hard to differentiate them all. When a brand uses social media to engage consumers in a conversation that is highly controversial it garners attention. This exposure can draw more consumers to the brand or at least introduce them to it if they have not previously been aware of it. You’re right, it may cause them to lose some customers. More importantly though, it will strengthen the loyalty of existing customers who feel connected to the brand through their social media interaction with it.


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