American Apparel Capitalizes on Hurricane Sandy

American Apparel has learned a hard lesson after using Hurricane Sandy to promote a sale. With this graphical subject line, the company sent an email to customers:

☁ ☂ ϟ Hurricane Sandy Sale! ϟ ☂ ☁ 20% Off Everything!

The email encourages customers to take advantage of the sale if they are "bored during the storm."

  American Apparel

Backlash on Twitter was fast and fierce, with tweets promising to boycott the stores, telling the brand to "shut up about your #Sandy sale," and speculating that the company "will soon be hiring a new marketing director."

As of this writing, American Apparel has not responded to the complaints.

Gap made a similar but less serious faux pas. The company did respond to critics-sort-of:

Gap Sandy 1
Gap Sandy 2
UPDATE: In an interview with BloombergBusinessweek, American Apparel CEO defends the ad.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of American Apparel's ad campaign: a clever marketing approach, insensitive, or something else?
  • Should American Apparel respond to the criticism, and if so, how?
  • How effective is the Gap's second tweet in explaining the first?