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?

Marketing Post #1: Fuel The Day!…With False Advertising?

No matter how old you are, you must have had some sort of contact with Nutella: the chocolate hazelnut spread. Children and teens love it, and even adults indulge in it. Best of all, it is a chocolaty treat that is healthy, nutritious and an important part of a healthy breakfast! — At least according to Ferrero, the makers of Nutella. Sound too good to be true? Sadly, it is.

An outraged mother was shocked when she found out what she originally was led to believe was a healthy treat for her family turned out to have the “nutritional properties of a candy bar, with very high levels of refined sugar and saturated fat.” She then sued Ferrero (back in April, 2012), winning the claim.

Connie Evers, a consultant for Nutella was traced to be the source of the whole scandal: she began to depict the spread as a good breakfast companion for kids, misleading mothers to think it was as healthy as regular peanut butter, but was sure to be more attractive to their kids. This led to outrage, causing the company to have to quickly take action in attempts to ease discontent, and save their image.

My main concern for this issue is that children were pulled into this issue. There are commercials that not only show the satisfaction of other children their age consuming Nutella, but also made them believe this was healthy. This is unethical, and unacceptable, as children are too young to think beyond what is shown to them.

Appropriately, Nutella has settled the lawsuits with a $3 million (USD) payout, as well as promised they would stop labeling themselves as nutritious. However, it is obvious they still want to encourage their product as an essential breakfast companion (link to their Facebook page). Their new ads still suggests that it is a good spread, with no preservatives and colouring. So how exactly does this show that they are taking steps to mend their actions? Perhaps they believe they won’t need to. One can observe that a brand as strong as Nutella’s can easily move past the public’s scrutinizing gaze after a quick apology, and continue what they were doing.

Inspired by: 1, 2