Monster storms packing high winds and treacherous weather can leave millions of people and businesses in strenuous situations dealing with the aftermath. Superstorms impact small business operations locally and across the nation, from supply chain operations to their most valued assets – customers.
When a calamity hits, sales promotions tied to a natural disaster may seem obviously tasteless to some. But not others. In fact, American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy Sale was the topic of such a debate — Brilliant or Boneheaded?, you be the judge.
“The L.A.-based retailer is under fire for advertising a 36-hour 20%-off ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’ for customers in the Northeast just as the superstorm was about to make landfall in the same region,” said NY Daily News reporter Christine Roberts.
The Twitosphere was up in arms over the apparel company’s impromptu natural disaster-themed sale for residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy, “the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history, behind Hurricane Katrina,” according to Reuters.com. “The tropical cyclone devastated portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States in late October 2012 … causing damage of at least $20 billion (2012 USD).”
Taking a moment to search Twitter, “#sandy sale” reveals the debate spurred by the retailer who’s convinced that their Sandy marketing is “Not A Serious Matter.” In fact, “CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over [his team] capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. Charney noted, ‘I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake … We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.’”
Many companes did however, “get it right” as it pertains to marketing, pr crisis communications and cause association efforts during the natural disaster.
Whether you agree with sales promotions like the ‘Sandy Sale’ or think it was a marketing fail, here are three examples of companies that actually got “it” right, instead.
TheLadders, a U.S.-based company providing online job search services, known for it’s prior listings of only vetted job offers with annual salaries of $100,000 or more, reached out to their customer base on a more compassionate, informative and helpful note:
A Message from Alex Douzet, COO of TheLadders
To our customers and friends,
First and foremost, if you have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and sound.
You probably didn’t know TheLadders headquarters are located in lower Manhattan. Like most of that area, our office is currently still without power and our entire staff is working remotely. Despite the hurricane, our employees have been working tirelessly to get our teams and systems running so that we can continue to serve you. At this time, we can gladly assist you with customer service requests via email at email@example.com. We will respond within 24-72 hours.
Hopefully, phone and live chat support will be available starting Monday.
We will continue to keep you updated in the coming days. In the meantime, we ask for your patience as New York, and the entire East Coast, recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy.
Alex Douzet, COO & Co-founder, TheLadders