Brands Post for 9/11 Memorial & the Internet HATED It?

Every September 11th our thoughts turn, if only briefly, to the tragic events of 9/11/01.

Major media outlets dust off their reels and dig out the photos captured during the tragedy. Often, the media releases new footage, interviews, impact stories, and the anchors gravely recall their own personal experiences of that day. Radio stations find a new way to incorporate sound clips into a song. And yes, companies remember too.

Every year.

But this year, we saw backlash towards brands’ social media outlets on 9/11, and scathing blog posts deciding it’s time for brands to just quit it. Though… we didn’t see any tweet or article about the Animal Planet being a$$holes for airing Hero Dogs of 9/11 or the countless other 9/11 Anniversary programming which were solely created TO MAKE MONEY.

Before we pose a contrary side to the argument, we’d like to share some (basic) community management etiquette for ALL brands…

Respectfully memorializing a national (or international) event = OK

Tastelessly inserting your brand, product, or special in memorial = NOT OK

We’ve always been firm believers of benevolent and magnanimous behavior on behalf of brands in social media.  For years and years benevolence was (and still is) best practice for social media community management. Yes, those brands are in social media to broadcast their marketing message, sell a product, and generate leads, but also to “humanize” the brand, build loyalty, and foster good will.

Isn’t that what we preach, social marketers? Isn’t “humanizing your brand” on the lips of every panelist of social media discussions?

It is, and you damn well know it.

So why the freak out? Are we (marketers) and consumers all just a bit too jaded? One rarely sees such backlash from a brand recognizing Veteran’s Day if done in a tasteful manner. Many companies even offer Memorial Day discounts or specials and are not scoffed at or virtually scathed in 140 characters.

Ultimately, remember, there is no monolith brand marketing machine that posts in social media – they are humans. Humans run those social media programs, and they’re directed by other humans, AND they work for and with even more humans.

All humans.

Many (if not most, or all) were likely, directly or indirectly, impacted by the events of 9/11.

Indeed, it’s the human-element of the brand that stands united and remembers. Not some unfeeling corporate entity insular from the 9/11 tragedy.

Unequivocally, the events, and the actions that followed 9/11 have affected this country, and so many others. It was (and is) a day that united us as a nation. So, let’s remember. Let’s never forget. Let’s honor those fallen and those fighting. Even if it’s a brand. After all, without those brands posting patriotic images in social, I wouldn’t have seen as many (if any) – because, let’s face it, users are not likely to go through the effort autonomously.

One final thought: what makes an adult toy company unworthy of recognizing and remembering 9/11? This is America after all…


Kudos, Fleshlight, I appreciated it.

(and this blog post isn’t a marketing ploy to insert ourselves in the news or get anyone to buy marketing services either… 🙂 )

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