att-9-11

9/11: On this solemn day of remembrance, never forget your favorite brands

Sep 11, 2013

Today, AT&T posted an offensive “never forget” image on Twitter, which caused an immediate internet outrage, forcing the brand to delete the tweet and apologize.

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Of course, they aren’t the only brands guilty of cynical, opportunistic 9/11 ads. The tragedies are a perfect opportunity for brands to demonstrate how they really care, despite the fact that they aren’t humans and they’re trying to sell you stuff. While AT&T’s post went a step too far by actually incorporating their product in their tribute, is it that much worse than, say, Best Buy’s 9/11 promo tweet?

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So what’s the best way for your brand to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11? Don’t. Stay silent. Nobody will notice or call you out for not saying anything. It’s just a brand, after all, whose only job is to make products and provide them at a fair price. Brands don’t need to have “personality” or “friends” because they aren’t people, despite what the Supreme Court says. Best of all, you won’t risk seeming callous like AT&T did today, and be forced to have to fire your overwhelmed 20-something social media manager.Screen Shot 2013 09 11 at 2.20.22 PM 9/11: On this solemn day of remembrance, never forget your favorite brands

Because the thing is, the brand name itself is an advertisement for its product. So everything a brand writes, whether it’s an inane tweet about the weather, or reminding us not to forget about an extreme act of violence, regardless of whether or not it actually mentions the product, is still a tacit advertisement for the said product. And often, the products themselves (say, chicken sandwiches) have nothing to do with the subject being commented on.

Then there are people, often comedians, who celebrate the fact that brands respond callously to 9/11. In a way, it’s darkly funny that brands do this, and a great example of how absurdly brand-saturated our country has become.

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Then again, taking pleasure and capitalizing on it (which I realize I’m sort of doing with this article) is almost as tacky as the brands’ remembrance posts themselves.

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The best response I’ve seen so far is by comedy writer Jason Mustian, who responded to a few brands’ tweets with a more literal and honest interpretation:

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Here’s a collection of brands remembering 9/11. George W. suggested 12 years ago it was our patriotic duty to go shopping, so I recommend scrolling through them while humming the national anthem and quietly weeping to yourself. #neverforget

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