American Apparel and the most insensitive ad campaign of all time

30th Oct 2012

Controversial clothing retailer American Apparel has come under fire on social media after using Hurricane Sandy as an excuse for a sale.

The American brand sent out an email blast to its customers offering 20% to those located in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland for the next 36 hours.

The ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’ email read: “In case you’re bored during the storm, 20% off everything for the next 36 hours.”

Reaction to the ad has been overwhelmingly negative on Twitter:  

The marketing campaign has been compared to fashion designer Kenneth Cole's faux paus during the Arab Spring last year when he tweeted: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

American Apparel is yet to respond to the criticism.

Other campaigns that have infamously exceeded the boundaries of good taste include a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) video promoting a green agenda by re-enacting the 9/11 attacks in NYC with more planes and using the slogan, “The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it”. While the ad was reportedly never intended to air, it sparked uproar - and even the WWF itself condemned it.

Elsewhere, Groupon was lambasted for its 2011 Super Bowl ad which made light of political unrest in Tibet to promote cheap deals on curry. Facing a major backlash, the company was forced to pull the ad, despite having spent $2 million on the campaign.


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