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American Apparel

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  1. American Apparel Social Media Campaign that Resulted in Consumer Backlash Charles Tucker March 2013

  2. It Started with This Ad

  3. Summary The clothing brand, American Apparel, was looking for an opportunity to associate themselves with a major media event. The 2012 Olympics saw Nike and many other brands continuing this trend toward a positive association. Oddly, the event American Apparel selected for their campaign was the natural disaster caused by Hurricane Sandy. On the day the hurricane made landfall the company ran the ad campaign on the previous slide promoting their ‘event’ sale. It is unclear why they determined this was a suitable event to associate with, but the reaction from the public was swift. The obvious mistake: assuming that creating a profit opportunity out of the misfortune of others is acceptable, particularly one that created such wide-spread suffering. Not an association most would see as adding long term brand reinforcement. The company’s reaction furthered the damage. The CEO is quoted as saying, “We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.“ Source:

  4. Sampling from Twitter… Ouch! Seb Reeve @rrreevo American Apparel and the most insensitive ad campaign of all time #custserv Creode @Creode Do companies ever learn? American Apparel cause the latest social media disaster - SBLeaders @SBLeaders American Apparel's #Sandy solution -- online sale!! #leadership #fail Carolina Beltrán @ceelolabee Idiots @AmericanApparel The media weighed in right along with the Twitter world. A blog post on ElectricPig by Adam Bunker said, “American Apparel has invoked a Twitter riot by launching a ‘20% off’ sale that’s designed to last as long as the devastating weather.”

  5. Analysis The American Apparel campaign has been identified as one of the top social media failures of 2012, Step missed in their process: employing empathy with the target audience would hopefully catch a mistake like this. How would I react if I were the audience? Does this mean that disaster events are no place for business to further their brand efforts? Not so, says Errol Apostolopoulos of Socialmedia Today, • “This Hurricane Sandy tweet from Sears, with a call to action to buy from them to prepare for the storm, placed the CTA in the context of helping consumers, creating a collaborative feeling rather than one of cheap selling tactics.”