PR Fail: American Apparel’s ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’

The hipster dud makers and serial perverts who run American Apparel are no strangers to controversy and bad PR–the company’s former rep recently published a cute book titled “Trust Me, I’m Lying”, and his thesis seems to be that bloggers, reporters and other media personalities are just as dishonest as he is.

The company made another dubious promotional decision yesterday by advertising a 20% off “Hurricane Sandy Sale” for email subscribers living in areas affected by the storm. The message encouraged customers to stop by local branches “in case you’re bored” so they can save a couple of bucks on cheap, LA-made t-shirts guaranteed to fray at the seams within six months.

This characteristically insensitive email blast inspired a stream of outrage on Twitter, with many users promising to boycott the chain and its silver leggings once and for all.

But will this stunt really hurt the company’s reputation–or its sales numbers? We somehow doubt it.

We can’t expect much in the way of respectable behavior from American Apparel, which has grown into a big brand by creating a series of NSFW ads that feature everything from grandmas in tights to bottomless porn stars while brazenly dancing along the line between clever and creepy. And we just don’t think this newest spat of negative publicity and online outrage will do much to damage what has proven to be a very resilient business. If CEO Dov Charney has his way, AA could even manage to escape nine straight quarters of losses and multiple bankruptcy scares to become a profitable company again.

But mark our words: getting out of the red won’t make American Apparel any less sleazy.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.