Marketing Ethics: Campaigning during a natural disaster
Furthermore, I found it odd that I was receiving emails from Living Social encouraging me to take advantage of amazing deals in Manhattan and other areas of New York. Guess they didn’t get the memo. Some are likening these tactics to the Kenneth Cole controversy (Kenneth Cole compared the Arab Spring to its spring sale, tweeting: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”).
The best advice is quite simple: Use good judgment. If you’re watching these terrible events from a distance and aren’t “in the know,” then make sure you get “in the know” before launching a campaign or engaging in “newsjacking” to suit your needs. Then again, if you ignore serious news, people could interpret this as indifference. Offer your sympathies and, more importantly, offer true support. On Nov. 2, I received an email from New York City-based NY&Co.’s chief executive officer Greg Scott. The email was brief (only a few paragraphs) and extended “heartfelt thoughts to those impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.” The email closed with the following paragraph:
“The American Red Cross has been ‘on the ground’ providing relief for those affected and is uniquely positioned to lend immediate assistance to those who need it most. Starting tomorrow and continuing through Sunday in all of our stores, we will be asking for donations for the American Red Cross Hurricane Disaster Relief, and will match your donations up to $50,000, for a total in excess of $100,000. At the Red Cross, $0.91 of every dollar donated goes directly to supporting Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief.”
Not every company produces the revenue of this powerhouse. Nevertheless, you get the idea. Many suppliers and distributors in our industry were personally affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. So, I ask you, readers, how would you handle your marketing efforts in light of a tragic event? Is it best to think “business-as-usual” (with some sensitivity)? Would you avoid referencing the event altogether? Or, are you using your success to help out without any personal gain?