Kate Spade inadvertently supports warlord Joseph Kony

UPDATED Kate Spade's handbag seems to say "I <3 KONY"

Topics: marketing fails, kate spade, kony 2012, Joseph Kony, Uganda, Terrorism, ,

In 2012, everyone in the the world (aside from fashion house Kate Spade) learned about the atrocities of Ugandan terrorist and Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony thanks to KONY 2012, the social media campaign by filmmaker Jason Russell, meant to take him down. The film, representing a charity frought with its own problems, soon became a cautionary tale for the emotional power of viral marketing. These are all lessons that someone at Kate Spade evidently missed, however; PR professional Lauren Jenkins spotted this Kate Spade handbag that reads “I <3 KONY” at first glance:

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Most likely, the statement is a play on the company’s logo and “I <3 NY,” and is meant to say “I <3 Kate Spade New York,” but no one at Kate Spade responded to Salon’s request for comment. So if you see a lot of presumably fashionable ladies pledging support for Joseph Kony, well, now you know why.

Update: Kate Spade has issued an official statement saying that it’s withdrawing the handbag from stores: “This bag was designed as a celebration of kate spade new york, using the abbreviation of our name, kate (spade) new york. We regret the interpretation of this tote’s design and apologize for any misunderstanding. We take customer feedback seriously and are actively working to withdraw these items from our stores and wholesale partners.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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