Maybe trying to sell your product during a national disaster that has now killed at least 57 people isn’t the best idea, as some retailers are learning after experiencing severe social media backlash in the wake of questionable tweets sent out during Hurricane Sandy.
Canadian brand President’s Choice found itself in trouble Tuesday after it tweeted: “What’s scarier? Hurricane Sandy or a beverage with marshmallow eyeballs?” with a link to a recipe for a Halloween-themed drink.
The tweet quickly received backlash from other Twitter users for being insensitive. The company later deleted the tweet and apologized, reports The Canadian Press. “We sincerely apologize for the insensitive tweet,” the company wrote. “We understand the seriousness of the storm and didn’t intend to make light of it.”
In the United States, American Apparel was also under fire for questionable marketing tactics after it emailed customers, telling them about a “SandySale” where shoppers in states affected by the hurricane would get 20 per cent off any online purchase, reports The Financial Post.
American Apparel didn’t immediately respond to the criticism, but eventually told blog Fashionista: “Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place.”
Also in case studies about how not to advertise during a natural disaster, Gap tweeted on Monday: “All impacted by #Sandy stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today, how about you?”
Gap later apologized, saying:
To all impacted by #Sandy, stay safe. Our check-in and tweet earlier were only meant to remind all to keep safe and indoors.
— Gap (@Gap) October 29, 2012
Urban Outfitters also offered free shipping during the storm, which probably isn’t all that useful in affected states where mail delivery is cancelled due to power outages and other dangers to staff.
— Urban Outfitters (@UrbanOutfitters) October 29, 2012
However, perhaps the worst advertising offer during the storm was from Groupon, notes The Atlantic Wire. On the day after the storm, the Manhattan Midtown deal of the day was for a restaurant called Dans le Noir, which allows patrons to dine in the dark.