International Catastrophe = Opportunity to Boost Sales? ….. No. Not So Much.

Los Angeles based clothing company American Apparel has received some serious heat over the last few days after blasting shoppers in the Northeast with this email: 

That’s right  American Apparel, scientists predict the biggest storm in 400 years to hit the coast and the first thing you should do is make sure your sales don’t take a hit. Yes, it is true that many tweeted about the boredom of being stuck inside for the storm, but have enough sense to know that many people will suffer damage or loss to their homes and belongings.  Twitter gave a resounding response:

American Apparel CEO didn’t seem to think his marketing team had done anything wrong. A representative of the company  responded to the backlash with this:

“Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place…”

If only he’d had enough sense to stop there. Alas, he did not. He went on to defend the sale, saying:

 … Retail stores are the lifeline of a brand like ours, so when they are closed, we need to come up with ways to make up for that lost revenue. People forget how expensive it is to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel, and if we made a mistake here, it came from the good place of trying to keep the machine going—for the sake of our employees and stakeholders.”

Yes, you poor multi-million dollar company. Our hearts go out to you in this terrible time of hardship…..(Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.) While we appreciate American Apparel’s commitment to keeping its employees at work and the company operating, this sentiment is not one the public wants to hear as they and their loved ones are in danger.

Unfortunately, several other companies including The Gap and Urban Outfitters jumped on the Sandy Sale bandwagon. It did not go over well.

So, while we hoped this wouldn’t need to be said, it ever-so-apparently does:

Using a natural disaster to promote sales is definitely on the ‘NOT OK’ list. 

Supplying people in need with batteries and mobile device charging stations like Duracell? This is ok! Waving late payment fees for customers in the Northeast like JPMorgan Chase & Co? This is ok! Offering 30 free days of storage for evacuees trying to save their belongings like U-Haul? Definitely OK!!!

What these companies understand is this: Marketing is not about making a sale; it’s about creating trust and loyalty in life-long customers. They understand that though they may see a dip in revenue in the short-term, the return gained from this kind of do-gooder activity is immeasurable in the long-term.  Whether these companies are motivated by sheer kindness or are keen to these long-term payoffs, we’re not sure. But frankly, we don’t care either.

One thought on “International Catastrophe = Opportunity to Boost Sales? ….. No. Not So Much.

  1. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article!

    It’s the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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