Kenneth Cole is becoming notorious for pun-filled copy that makes light of current events (after 9/11, Cole famously put up a billboard in New York reading “God Dress America”). Now the American clothing retailer is adopting the light-hearted approach to appeal to the credit-strapped consumer during the most difficult economic situation in living memory. “The future is about to be redressed,” reads one store window, while another urges us to “Avoid bare markets.” (Bare = bear, geddit?) Men are told to “Cover your ass-ets,” women to “Become a stimulus package.”
Are we to think the Kenneth Cole brand is so crassly shallow that we should buy from it out of sympathy? Or are consumers, tired of the doom-laden hyperbole, ready to gravitate to a brand that’s making a joke of it all? What is the role of humor for a brand in an anxious world? Maybe it is in Mr. Cole’s ken.