If you work in marketing, remember: there is no such thing as a *bad* 9/11 tribute. Throw it out there, see what works.
— Philip Bump (@pbump) September 11, 2013
He’s joking, BTW. And if you didn’t see this post coming, then you must not have logged on to Twitter today. It really does seem like every. single. brand. has taken the opportunity to piggyback off this twelfth anniversary of 9/11 in order to increase exposure…or something like that. Here’s the tweet that’s been irritating everyone in media:
The image was tacky, sure—and the social team quickly issued an apology and deleted it.
We apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy.
— AT&T (@ATT) September 11, 2013
But is AT&T the worst offender? And how terrible are these brand posts, really?
Well, it’s barely 3:00, and some reference to #NeverForget or 9/11 has appeared in tweets from brands associated with everything from big box stores:
We’re remembering the victims, their families and the heroes this September 11th. May we never forget.
— Best Buy (@BestBuy) September 11, 2013
— Waffle House (@WaffleHouse) September 11, 2013
To late-night stoner food:
Today we remember the victims of the tragedy that struck our country and salute the brave men & women who risked their lives to save others. — Huggies® (@Huggies) September 11, 2013
To TV shows:
To football teams (seriously, every team in the NFL did this):
To credit cards:
— American Express (@AmericanExpress) September 11, 2013
To firearms, for God’s sake:
OK, that’s more than enough. You get the point.
General response to these messages is mixed: some see co-opting 9/11 as the epitome of tastelessness while others note that none of these messages, with the exception of AT&T and possibly Blue Bloods, are directly selling any particular product.
We’re not quite sure how we feel. We certainly can’t claim to “own” memories of a particularly traumatic event, but while this isn’t a new trend, Twitter seems more offended than usual this year. Maybe the public—and especially those of us who work in media—is simply more aggressive about “shaming” brands whose messages they don’t like.
Some of these posts got solid engagement numbers, even if they inspired journalists to attack en masse. Was it a mistake for so many brands to sign on?