Marketing Post #2: People Are Dying, It’s Time for Shopping!

Many companies know that in order to have successfully promote your products, you need to seize opportunities. So when Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc across the US, American Apparel leapt at the opportunity and chose to use one of the sure-fire channels of communication to reach their customers: the internet.

What exactly was American Apparel trying to communicate across? No, it had nothing to do with using the disaster to boost their image by urging people to donate to a relief fund, as many other companies jumped to do. Instead, they offered those who were stuck at home and ‘bored’ to discount codes for their online website.

The ad was met with criticism, and outrage from the public, especially when the death toll was climbing higher every hour during the hurricane. However, not only did American Apparel not apologize for their campaign, they went on to explain that it is “expensive to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel,” so they were trying to make up for lost revenue.

They may have nailed it by getting an ad campaign up as soon as possible, seizing the situational opportunities of the hurricane, but in hindsight, did they really believe no one was going to get offended? The identified their target audience as those who were forced to stay home for safety reasons, but overlooked the fact that the US as a whole was panicking.

Another company who tried to make use of situational opportunities includes GAP. They chose to make a short tweet offering their concern for victims, but quickly moved on to promoting themselves not unlike what American Apparel did. However, they quickly tweeted an clarification to atone for their actions, which is more than can be said for in American Apparel’s case.

All the same, something can definitely be learned here. Sure, it is important to make use of any opportunities that come your way, but from what direction should you approach it?

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2 thoughts on “Marketing Post #2: People Are Dying, It’s Time for Shopping!

  1. Josh says:

    Unibroue (a brewery) has a beer called “La Fin du Monde” (The End of the World) and they creatively took opportunity of the whole Dec. 21 end-of-the-world dealio and had a countdown on their website while promoting their beer.

    • kalyrical says:

      That’s smart 🙂 Taking a conspiracy theory that has gone viral and turning it into some sort of advertising. Remember when Storm Crow Tavern did their promo too? (Free drinks + food on them if the world did end..)

      But that’s the thing. The end of the world on the 21st was seen as a joke, and not likely to anger people. Sandy, on the other hand, was very real, and definitely happening as they urged people to do some online shopping.

      I guess this brings up the question of when is advertising crossing the line?

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