This week has been tough on the Eastern coast of North America. Hurricane Sandy has slammed the Eastern seaboard with extreme weather causing unprecedented flooding and billions of dollars in damage. It has also claimed the lives of many people, and the numbers are rising. It has been a tragic situation and has captivated the world. This is something that has serious implications and should not be taken lightly. But that’s exactly what one company did.
American Apparel took advantage of the disaster and used it as a promotional tool. Over the weekend they sent out an email to their members featuring the “Sandy Sale”, a promotion that gave customers 20% off everything in the next 36 hours.
They specifically targeted the states highlighted in red, which by no coincidence were the same states being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Needless to say, this promotion is highly distasteful and does not respect the gravity of the situation. They took advantage of a serious situation and tried to turn it into a business opportunity. But this isn’ t the first time something like this has happened. Kenneth Cole did something similar during the Arab Spring. Immediately massive amounts of people took to social media to express their feelings about American Apparel’s move. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over so well with people and they expressed their distaste towards the brand, some even stating they will boycott American Apparel from now on.
This is a prime example of communications gone wrong, and its had a very negative impact on the brand. The twitterverse has been alive with people ranting over the horrible ads. Relating this back to my previous blogs, I think American Apparel should be worried about the impact that this will have. But the thing is, they probably aren’t. They’ve had trouble in the past with their racy advertisements and their marketing tactics are always “toeing the line” of decency. I know they always want to make an impact with their marketing, but this is too far. They definitely need to change their corporate policies and shake up their marketing department.
As this social storm rages on, it will only get bigger and more people will begin having a negative sentiment towards the brand. Furthermore, American Apparel has not done any triage at all. They haven’t released a statement defending or apologizing for their actions. Big mistake. I thnk that if theyi had come out and said something by now, people may have been more forgiving. But now I think that opportunity has passed and their brand will suffer. This time American Apparel went too far and it may be something they may not be able to recover from.