Before we approach this subject let’s make one thing very clear.
While we look at the marketing / business / reputation issues that accompany any company’s actions as it relates to Hurricane Sandy, we are doing so because we are a marketing blog. The bigger picture of the destruction and death that the storm left in its wake is the REAL issue. If you could do anything to somehow help relief efforts in any way stop reading and go do that. That matters. A business analysis ultimately doesn’t at all.
Having said that, we need to look at the response of the CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney, who apparently feels that the row created over his company’s discount on purchases offered to people impacted by Sandy in nine states is much ado about nothing.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek he says
Bloomberg Businessweek: Why do you think there was so much blowback?
Dov Charney: It’s the blogosphere. Each blogger or Twitterer eggs on the other, and it becomes a big deal. That doesn’t represent the majority of the people. I don’t think the average person was offended. There were 25 bloggers who blew up. That’s their right. The media is also interested in getting a rise out of readers. You have to look at your motivation in covering this, too. But it’s not a big deal. We don’t think it was offensive. We’re sorry if others thought it was.
Hey, Mr. Charney, you can call me #26.
As requested I am going to look at my motives in doing this post.
- Give topical information that makes sense in a marketing and reputation blog environment
- Show Mr. Charney’s point of view of his company’s action
- Give our readers a chance to form an opinion as to whether commercialization of tragedy is a good business practice or not
- Give my opinion
Now for my opinion. If you are not interested in being swayed in way or another you can stop reading now. From my vantage point, which is an area of the east coast that was not impacted by the storm but being someone with family and friends now suffering with the aftermath of this killer storm, Mr. Charney exhibits the worst of marketers and marketing in general. On a bigger level he exhibits the worst of humanity but that’s for another post.
Here is another one of his responses from the article
How did it affect your sales?
People shopped on it. We generated tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but we’ll probably lose a million dollars from this (storm) event at a minimum. We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.
While I have never shopped at American Apparel because I am decidedly uncool, I would hope that my kids would never do it because, in my opinion, this attitude is borderline repugnant and puts true business people in a bad light. “People shopped on it”. “Not a serious matter”. Really?! Is that it? Would you say that to any of the 120+ families who had someone die during this storm? “I’m sorry for your loss but people shopped on it”? Wow.
I could rant but I won’t. I will just say that in the future, let’s place humanity above profitability in extreme and dire situations like this storm was and still very much is. The more we see scenes like the one where NJ Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama, two men who couldn’t be more diametrically opposed in the political forum, come together and put people above all else the better off we will all be.
Enjoy the picture of two men putting everything aside to try to make a difference and not a profit. If I can put my natural cynicism aside for now I suspect most can as well.
Oh and while you are at it, think real long and hard about ever putting another dollar into an American Apparel cash register.