Like many industries, PR went through its “trashy” stage where any attention was thought of as good attention. Thankfully, the industry and the public have evolved. As consumers, we demand that companies make smart choices. Not just in the way that they produce their products or deliver their services, but also in the way that they market to us.
We now seek out companies that are socially responsible. We celebrate brands that “give back”. A great example is Maxwell House’s 2008 advertising campaign “Brew Some Good” where instead of spending a small fortune on producing swanky television ads, the corporation decided to instead donate money to worthy community groups. This campaign is actually one of my favorites of all time. It tied in the element of the corporation being socially responsible and it represented a shift in corporate culture to a more collaborative environment where consumers could nominate worthy causes in their community.
Now, let’s fast forward by 4 years and take a look at American Apparel’s latest Hurricane Sandy Sale (#SandySale). It feels like we are regressing and moving back into the dark ages of PR and Marketing where offending consumers is “where it’s at”. With all of the destruction and deaths that Hurricane Sandy has caused, I think that the decision to run this campaign was in very poor taste. As someone who studies the reputational impact that “social media blunders” have on brands, I think that this will have an impact on how the brand and how consumers feel about it.
Oh, American Apparel….All you had to do was ask…Ask your audiences, social media experts, marketing students, people with common sense or even this mountain goat and we all would have probably told you the same thing – don’t run this campaign.
My only words of wisdom for American Apparel are to donate the proceeds of their sales to the victims, families and the communities of the people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Do it soon…and when you do it, don’t give yourself a pat on the back because you still don’t deserve it.