We all know by now that Hurricane Sandy was a social media phenomenon. I’m sure in the days and weeks to come we’ll read all about record-breaking statistics that helped keep us all from going too stir-crazy while cooped up in our apartments. It’s only natural – when things get rough, we rally to vent our collective frustrations and fears. Social media is obviously a great way for us as a culture to experience a current event.
But when marketers try to use current events to stay relevant, it can sometimes backfire. In fact, it can come off as inauthentic and downright desperate.
Take this email below that I received from a gym I’m considering joining. The subject line was “Sandy Equals Savings in November!” I rolled my eyes and brushed it off but it left me feeling uneasy.
THEN, I saw this gem from American Apparel. Wow, gee thanks dudes. I’m so glad there’s a sale on overpriced clothes for size 0 hipsters!!! Thanks for providing me something to keep me busy in case I was “bored” during the storm. I’m sure people who lost power really enjoyed seeing this pop up on their iPhones when they had only 10% battery life left.
I mean, we need to remember that this hurricane left at least 38 dead and millions without power in the U.S. And we can’t forget the additional 69 lives it took in the Caribbean before it made its way to us. This is not something companies should be using to score a jump in profits.
Perhaps if brands want to leverage a current event, they should first consider the situations that their customers may be in. Consider strategic timing. Consider holding your tongue for a few more days. Or maybe consider a creative way to market to your customers while helping hurricane victims.
My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one during the storm. I also hope that those who lost their homes or property can find the strength and support to move on and rebuild. And in the coming weeks, I hope to see more brands getting involved in relief efforts.