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There’s something to be said for getting in on a trend when it’s hot, social media marketing at it’s core is all about trends. When that great, roaring and rushing storm of interest starts to brew, it pays to be right in the eye of that sucker…unless the storm in question is a LITERAL one, of course.

American Apparel found that out the hard way when they tried to capitalize on hurricane Sandy’s arrival on the east coast. They sent out a mass-email Monday night (during peak storm hours) offering 20% off to customers who were in the danger zone. All you had to do was be in the right state and enter SANDYSALE at checkout.

This didn’t go over so well.

People took to social media in droves, complaining about the clothing company. Here are a couple recent replies:

–“American apparel just sent me a hurricane sandy 20% off sale alert to my email. I want to throw up again. Wtf is wrong with people!!???!!??”

–”Another tasteless marketing campaign by American Apparel. Why am I not surprised.”

The majority of the press has been negative, but maybe that’s the way they want it? These days, it can be pretty hard to tell the difference between a faux pas and genius marketing. This little “gaffe” landed American Apparel in many major news sources and got a lot of people talking about their brand, all for the low low price of an email.

Certainly, the press is negative, but IS there such a thing as bad publicity? What do you think, did they do it on purpose or was it an honest mistake?

Original article about American Apparel's marketing was posted on Wikimotive's blog under the title American Apparel and Sandy

Views: 86

Tags: Marketing, Media, Social

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Comment by Abner Goncalves Cavalcanti on October 31, 2012 at 7:20am

Good point Mike, I don't really see the problem with a "post hurricane sale" but I'm also of the opinion that American Apparel did nothing wrong either. Social media can be a sensitive place and you don't want your dealership poised to take the fall for offending people. My advice is to go ahead and have a sale, just don't mention the hurricane. It's unfortunate that we have to walk on egg shells like this with social media but it is the reality.


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Comment by Brad VanMagness on October 31, 2012 at 7:15am

Great article Tim. As for taking a side, I honestly think that American Apparel is pretty smart for recognizing the opportunity (lots of people sitting stuck inside and probably on their computers waiting for the power to go out) and seizing that opportunity with some well timed email marketing.


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Comment by Greg Devlin on October 31, 2012 at 6:58am

I'm inclined to agree with Zach here, I'm not really sure where AA went wrong. Especially when other companies take advantage of storms and natural disasters all the time by raising prices on plywood and generators just because the demand spikes. AA is just taking advantage of shut in consumers who are probably on the internet shopping or browsing anyway, why not try to get them on your site?

Comment by Mike Warwick on October 31, 2012 at 6:56am

Great topic Tim.  I know there are car dealers gearing up for their "Post Hurricane Sales" and the potential for a social media backlash is huge.  Many areas received very little damage while others have been devastated.  It can be easy for dealers in largely unaffected areas to move on with their "Hurricane sales" but this is a situation that has danger written all over it.  The gut reaction of car dealers is to make up for lost time and revenues but we've all seen that the tides of social media (excuse the pun) can turn on you in a second and your brilliant marketing campaign can turn into a huge misstep.

Comment by Zach Billings on October 31, 2012 at 6:18am

I have to disagree, for one it was an online shopping campaign, it's not like they were asking people to go out and be unsafe to get to their store. Also I haven't seen the email but it doesn't seem to me like they've downplayed the gravity of the storm at all they just realized a lot of people would be stuck inside doing nothing and as long as they have internet and electricity why not go on our site and do some shopping.

Comment by Andrew Martin on October 31, 2012 at 5:59am

Wow, while the adage "any press is good press" probably still applies this is definitely in bad form and I, for one, would think twice about shopping at American Apparel in the future.

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