It’s September. The leaves are starting to turn colors. Maple and pumpkin flavors are becoming ubiquitous. School is back in session, and there’s a cooling of the air. The 9/11 brand tweets have also come back.
Since the first anniversary of 9/11, businesses and brands have been trying to figure out how to commemorate, and capitalize on it.
Anniversaries and holidays are usually the time for brands to turn up the volume and hype up sales. Back to school, Halloween, Black Friday- Heck, even early Christmas.
Minor holidays like Columbus Day (A horrible thing to celebrate, mind you) , St. Patrick’s Day (No offense to our overseas readers, it’s minor here in North America), come in for this kind of marketing surge. It can be difficult to tone it down and recognize that some days should be kept free of commercial interference.
If you search for “Brands and 9/11” on Google, it becomes abundantly clear that the most egregious offenders happened in 2014. That year, most media covered how brands reacted to 9/11. The backlash, hilarity, and rage that ensued.
Don’t get me wrong- It’s not like anyone else showed any restraint before or after 2014.
Slightly less offensive are the companies that simply fly an American flag, or post a shot of the new York skyline with variations of “Never Forget”. This is absolutely not necessary, and nobody wants to be bombarded by iHop ads with 9/11, but at least it’s not grossly inappropriate.
One of the worst examples is AT&T in 2013, when it got in trouble for presenting some in-product placement. They quickly deleted their post and apologized.
There’s also this … odd Coca-Cola display that was seen in a Florida Walmart in 2016.
Or the Marriott in 2013:
I like to think that everybody has the best intentions at heart. Companies are, after all, made up of people. Their customers are (usually) people. The marketing landscape is a constant, never ending, uphill battle. Usually, brands want to engage with us, make us laugh- connect with us on social media. These efforts are usually harmless.
But when an occasion like the 9/11 anniversary comes around, they’re like a nervous teen at their first school dance, completely unsure of what to do with their sweaty hands.
This is the only time I’ll use Republican Sex Ed Curriculum in my articles:
For brands and 9/11, Try abstinence.