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The Perfect Marketing Storm

Social networking sites have been abuzz with #Sandy, specifically with the way that some retailers have approached Hurricane Sandy. Here are a few examples we have seen...


More than any other retailer, American Apparel has received quite a bit of flack for sending a Hurricane Sandy Sale email with the headline "In case you're bored during the storm.".  While remaining neutral on American Apparel's marketing choice, I will say in their defense, that nearly all of my East Coast friends and family reported to me that they were indeed more bored than anything during the storm - stranded at home and without out power.


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Another retailer to receive criticism was Jonathan Adler for their Storm Our Site email blast. JA addressed The criticism directly on Twitter with "I'm sorry. Our intention was just to do something nice for those still inside. Regardless, our thoughts go out to everyone." and changed the promo code from SANDY to STUCKINSIDE.



KarmaLoop took the humor approach addressing their audience as "Fam" with a promo email from their CEO/"Meteorologist" Greg Selkoe. A "Franken Deal" for a "Franken Storm" offered to brighten up the day for all of those stuck inside...



Sharper Image sent a promotional email the day of the storm with the SL "Storm Warning! Be Prepared With These Great Emergency Items!"



Many retailers have received positive feedback for their non-promotional emails. With their offices based in New York and warehouse in New Jersey, Fab took the proactive measure to email their customers with an alert that shipping would be halted for a week due to the effects of the storm.


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Ann Taylor sent an email with the subject line "We Hope You're Safe & Sound..." which expressed sympathy to those affected by the storm while explaining the resulting website and system issues they expected to have.



Similarly, J. Crew's email with SL "A message for our customers..." expressed sympathy for those affected, and alerted customer to potential shipping delays and store closures.



A retailer that has done a nice job of addressing natural distasters in the past is Williams-Sonoma. About 1 week after the disaster, WS sends an email to those regionally affected with the headline "From our family to yours, we're here to help". The 15% off coupon is good in stores for up to six months post-disaster. It's a nice way of reaching out to their customers following a crisis without seeming like they are overtly trying to market to them or capitalize on a catastrophic situation.


Share your thoughts with us... What do you think is the most appropriate way to reach out to your customers during and/or after a major
natural disaster? Are promotional emails OK to send? And if so, under what circumstances?

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