Natural brand disasters: President’s Choice, the Gap and American Apparel

31 Oct

Grocery cart submerged in waterYesterday, these three retailers all hit the Twitterverse with gung-ho Hurricane Sandy sales promotions. President’s Choice here, the Gap here and American Apparel here.

Condemnation was swift and brutal, and both President’s Choice and Gap are bowing and scraping today.

Why did they do it?

I suppose it’s the blinders affect: they were only focused on the perceived opportunity and were oblivious to the potential for disaster.

Were these all simply cases of bad judgement? One-off mistakes that got played out on a continental scale? Or was there something more indictable going on?

I’d like to suggest that what really happened here was a failure of process. Whatever the values of the respective brands, those responsible for creating and approving advertising tactics failed to align their communications to them.

In other words, they didn’t measure their promotions against the values and personality of the company. When you fail to do that, it’s cowboy country. Anything goes. Yee haw!

We see today in the news, on Mashable, on the Huff Post and others, the unfortunate fall-out from this failure of process.

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

If your business doesn’t have a clearly articulated Brand Guideline, against which you measure all external (and ideally internal) communications for compliance, get one.

If you have one, insist on adherence to it. That’s how you achieve consistency with your brand touchpoints.

You don’t have to wring your hands and search your soul over these sorts of opportunities. It will all be there in black and white.



4 Responses to “Natural brand disasters: President’s Choice, the Gap and American Apparel”

  1. TV Amanda October 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    It really is mind-boggling that this happened. How does a corporate giant think it’s okay to be so crass, especially given that they probably micro-manage their brand? You make a great point about aligning tactics to value.

    • Doug Brown October 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      In the case of American Apparel, public outrage may have been an acceptable price. They fly pretty close to the edges anyway. But for the others, a costly lesson. Cheers Amanda!

      • @footbutterguy November 4, 2012 at 12:29 am #

        I think this is simply a symptom and outcome of corporate greed and marketing taking over rational minds. Brands have to learn to rely on their own intrinsic brand strengths and stop trying to capitalise on outside events not connected to the brand. Opportunism is universally derided by the consumer in this context – why don’t they understand that?

      • Doug Brown November 4, 2012 at 4:22 am #

        Scott, you could have copied and pasted this comment and dropped it into the Christmas post. Both are essentially about the same thing, which you note: trying to capitalize on external events customer be damned! Thanks for the insider insight bro!

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