9/11 Marketing Failures

Companies are still learning the lesson: don't use tragic events to sell your products. AT&T and a golf course made this mistake on September 11.

ATT_never_forget_tweetgrabAT&T tweeted an image of someone taking a photo of the World Trade Center. Calling the ad "cheesy," "tacky," and other choice words, tweeters caused the company to issue an apology. ATT Apology


Tumbledown Trails golf course offered a promotion on 9/11:


After quite a bit of backlash, management apologized-with increasing vigor in successive posts:

We would first like to apologize to everyone that we have upset or feels we have disrespected in anyway. By no means did we mean to do this.
Here is what we will do this Wednesday 9-11;
we will still let all that have tee times booked play for the previous rates we posted.
Then for all other golf that day we would like to donate the $ difference between our normal rate and the previous price for the day to the 9/11 Memorial.
We hope that everyone will now see this as a positive as we really meant it to be. Again we do sincerely apologize for offending anyone & hope that you do accept our sincere apology.
 Thank you
We are a family owned business & proudly support all local charities and have always gave 20% off everyday to all Police, Fire, Emergency, Military, etc. Please accept our apology.
Please stay tuned to see if we will be open on Weds 9/11.
We are now worried about what people will do/say to our staff & do not want anything to happen or get out of control.
Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused anyone.

David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY, offered this advice: "Unless you're bringing something of value, the easy thing is just to keep your mouth shut." In his view, a simple "We remember" or similar tweet, such as Shutterfly's, is probably most appropriate.

  Shutterfly tweet

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the apologies from AT&T and Tumbledown Trails. What works well and what doesn't?
  • Do you agree with David Berkowitz's advice, or should companies just avoid the observance entirely?