If history has taught us one thing, it’s that those who don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it.
If it has taught us two things, it’s that you shouldn’t take advantage of a global tragedy to promote yourself.
For those who don’t already know, a masked gunman opened fire on a midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, killing 12 people and wounding 59 others earlier today (7/20/2012). The trending hashtag of #Aurora was quickly adopted to allow people to follow the emerging news, as well as provide support for the victims and their families.
Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney expressed shock at the news and promised to do everything they could to resolve the tragedy and bring the responsible parties to justice.
Then, a clothing chain called Celeb Boutique noticed the #Aurora hashtag and did what any rational, intelligent human would do.
They used it to promote themselves!
Obviously, such a shockingly vapid faux pas was quickly removed, but not before a veritable hurricane of outrage spread the slip across the Twittersphere.
Celeb Boutique has since apologized, citing that their PR representative isn’t located in the United States and was, therefore, unaware of the situation. They’ve even attempted to rectify the situation by donating close to $500,000 in support of the victims and their families. They also issued an apology via Twitter:
But the Internet hivemind is crying “too little, too late.”
See comments on their Facebook apology:
This is not the first time we have seen this.
We’ve seen this sort of story before. In February of this year, while Egypt was in the midst of a governmental crisis, Kenneth Cole took advantage of the situation to promote his new line of clothing, resulting in a similar social media backlash.
And again, in March, Gilbert Gottfried used the horrific devastation of Japan’s tsunami to make some off-color jokes. The public reaction was much the same. One of his tweets:
While this certainly won’t be the last time a company or prominent individual slips up in a (very) public forum, it begs the question: why does this happen so often and so blatantly? What do you think? How can companies protect themselves from this sort of slip, and what can they do to recover? Talk to us in the comments.