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Colorado shooting: Boutique uses 'Aurora' trend as sales tool

Celebboutique-tweet

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Online shopping hub CelebBoutique outraged Twitter users Friday with a tweet that appeared to reference the deadly shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.

Some nine hours after the massacre, social media handlers for the site, which offers looks worn or inspired by celebrities, posted to its account, "Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired Aurora dress," with a link to the product.

In fact, the "Aurora" trend on Twitter referred to the tragedy in which 12 people died and dozens more were wounded by a lone gunman. James Holmes, a 24-year-old graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver, is suspected in the shooting.

PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting

[Updated, 2:15 p.m. July 20: CelebBoutique issued the following statement Friday afternoon, explaining that the gaffe had originated in Britain and apologizing profusely to the families of the victims and to the American public in general. 

"We at CelebBoutique are deeply and truly sorry from the bottom of our hearts for our tweet regarding the Aurora trend on Twitter," the statement said. "We were unaware of the horrific tragedy that occurred in Colorado and though there is no excuse for our mistake, we hope the families of the victims will accept our greatest sympathies and apologies along with the American public.  Please be aware our social media is handled exclusively in the U.K. and our U.S. PR efforts only caught wind after our team discovered the terrible mistake. Again, we cannot apologize enough for any offense we may have caused and hope everyone can forgive us for this terrible mistake."]

Responses to the tweet called it "classless," "clueless," "soulless" and "wrong on every level," to name a few.

About an hour and a half after posting the offending tweet, CelebBoutique removed it from its feed and issued a series of apologies in 140 character chunks.

"We are incredibly sorry for our tweet about Aurora - Our PR is NOT U.S. based and had not checked the reason for the trend, at that time our social media was totally unaware of the situation and simply thought it was another trending topic," the company said.

"We have removed the very insensitive tweet and will of course take more care in future to look into what we say in our tweets."

Blogs and industry folk have likened the PR misstep to a February 2011 incident in which Kenneth Cole used widespread social unrest and violence in Egypt to promote its spring collection.

"Millions are in uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they heard our spring collection is now available online," the company wrote, linking to the brand's online shop.

The fashion house later apologized. 

— Matt Donnelly

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