After Paris Attacks, Brands Try to Show Support on Social Without Being Insensitive

Adding to the conversation can be a challenge

When tragic events like Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris unfold, marketers face a challenge: Should they show their support for victims on social media, and if so, how do they do so in an authentic way? 

This weekend, many major brands—including Amazon, Google and Uber—swiftly took to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms to show their solidarity with France, often using the #PrayforParis hashtag. The rush to join the discussion didn't sit well with some consumers: 

Still, Steven Heller, author of a number of books on design, told Fast Company that sharing supportive images is important: "We need symbols to express what [we] cannot say." They also offer brands a subtle way to join the conversation—to say something without sounding off. While many companies used the viral "Peace for Paris" sketch, others created their own images. 

Uber, for example, added the image of the French flag to the cars in its app:

Amazon had its own spin, putting the flag front and center on its homepage:

Airbnb, like many companies, made the French flag part of its logo while also offering help to those stranded in Paris: 

Google, Skype, Verizon and Sprint all made international calls free for consumers:

And, given Paris's place in the fashion world, many fashion brands were among those showing solidarity: 

But even as many brands worked to be sensitive and add relevant points to the cultural conversation, some posts, like 50 Cent's, read as insincere because they used branded hashtags: