Clothing brands appear to have committed the biggest brand fails of Hurricane Sandy, with both American Apparel and Gap forgetting that death and loss make a poor springboard for promotional messaging. American Apparel sent out an email blast on Monday night offering 20 percent off to customers in nine Eastern states for the next 36 hours—"in case you're bored during the storm." ("Just Enter SANDYSALE at Checkout," the ad gleefully advised.) It was met uniformly with derision on Twitter. Somewhat less egregious, though still plenty tacky, was Gap's exhortation to people—within a single tweet—to stay safe during the storm and also maybe do a little shopping at Gap.com. Gap semi-apologized in a follow-up tweet. American Apparel has said nothing further.
UPDATE: American Apparel tells Fashionista: "Of course we'd never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place. … Retail stores are the lifeline of a brand like ours, so when they are closed, we need to come up with ways to make up for that lost revenue. People forget how expensive it is to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel, and if we made a mistake here, it came from the good place of trying to keep the machine going—for the sake of our employees and stakeholders."
— Callie Schweitzer (@cschweitz) October 30, 2012
During the inevitable mea culpa from @americanapparel, they should to donate all proceeds this year to disaster relief.then go out of biz.
— Matthew Knell (@MatthewKnell) October 30, 2012
@gap Try taking a break from being a shill for a couple of days instead of trying to tie in a life-threatening storm warning to your ads?
— jontando (@jontando) October 30, 2012