Marketers use 9/11 to push the brands

It’s a fine line that companies walk when it comes to memorializing a national tragedy. On this day, for example, are they really sincerely honoring the victims of 9/11 with their messaging? Or are they simply using the anniversary to push the brand?

Sean Bonner, who observes social communication, say it’s simple. It’s all phony. Brands aren’t people. They don’t have emotions.

“People have those things, and when a brand tries to jump into that conversation, it’s marketing. And in a less emotionally charged environment it’s just dumb. But when talking about a tragedy that resulted in way too many people actually dying, it’s icky x 1000,” he tells AdWeek.

“It isn’t the time for branding or getting people to pay attention to companies. It’s a time for people to interact with each other, and the only respectful thing for brands to do is stay out of it and wait for tomorrow to get back to business,” he said.

But, of course, they can’t. That’s why Mike Monteiro is following them all over Twitter today and pointing out their crass opportunism.





  • Dave

    At least Dunkin’s photo doesn’t contain a donut. Weber’s photo is just shameless.

  • Nicholas Kraemer
  • kevinfromminneapolis

    “Don’t add your logo. Don’t offer a promo. But we were f***ing attacked. If a brand wants to offer a tasteful remembrance, let it.” – Me, earlier. We all remember where we were when we heard about the attacks and, for most adults, it was probably at work. It affected everything. I think it’s cheeky for brands to express their “thoughts and prayers” every time something bad happens. But for September 11 we can drop the modern need to get outraged at every offense, I hope, and just remember the difference between the world on 9/10 and the world on 9/12.

    • And nothing helps us remember like a 20% sale at Intimacy Box.

      I think there’s a significant difference between “cheeky” and “crass.”

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        That’s why I said don’t run a promo.

      • Ralphy

        40% Bob! Imagine that! 40%! 20% – I’m offended. But 40%! Now we’re talking about some seriously patriotic grieving and remembrance.
        I wonder if any are thinking of having a Pearl Harbor Day sale?
        Seriously, the food chain in the marketing departments for all these companies ought to be fired and the companies publicly shamed. Thank you for calling them out.

      • Tim

        The Intimacy Box tweet looks to me like it came from a bot or was otherwise automatically generated in some way, what with the spelling error and, well, wrong year. It’s definitely the worst of the ones shown, what with the advertisement for a sale added on to it. The Weber one is tacky as well, what with featuring one of their grills.

        However, the Beretta and Dunkin’ tweets don’t bother me, as they aren’t focused on their products, but rather on the event. Myself, I think the wisest course of action is to stay silent, but I understand the wish to commemorate the occassion too.

        • jon

          Beretta could have replaced “Beretta nation is united” with “We are united” to remove the plug of there name brand…
          Dunkin’ Doughnuts seems to be no worse than what some of my Facebook friends are posting…

  • Ralphy

    Perhaps these organizations should review US flag protocol before their next promotion.

  • jon_levy

    I remember where I was when the news broke. My mom called me in Oakland, and woke me up. I then got ready to go to my retail job in San Francisco where I worked at a (primarily gay) fetish/leather/bondage manufacturer and retailer. I pondered the ridiculousness of going to sell sex toys in light of what was transpiring in the country, as I traveled via train in the transbay tube (wondering what chaos might greet me as I entered the train station in SF).

    What I learned was that no national tragedy, natural disaster or monarch dying tragically will stop people from buying porn or sex toys. In fact, the retailer I worked for sold surplus Israeli gas masks (for play, not actual biochemical protection). Because they were online, when one searched “Israeli Gas Mask” on Google or other search engines, their catalog listing was one of the first few results. Many people – from all walks of life – ordered these “toys” despite the fact that the online catalog also featured explicit, gay-themed hardcore S&M content. Hooray!