We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001. My family and I were all getting ready to head out of the house, the television filling in as background noise for the chaos of my family’s morning routine, when all of the sudden, BREAKING NEWS was shining bright across the screen. My mother held me tight as we watched the footage of Flight 175 crash into one of the Twin Towers, footage that still evokes fear and sadness whenever I see it. Thirteen years later, I woke up this morning to get ready for class and scrolled through my Instagram feed to find a plethora of memorial pictures with the caption reading “#NeverForget.”
On AdWeek.com today, there is an article featured by AdFreak titled, “This Guy’s Replies to 9/11 Brand Tweets Sum Up Everything That’s Wrong With 9/11 Brand Tweets.” At first I thought, what is so wrong with brands expressing grief and memorial tributes to something that so deeply impacted all Americans? But then I read the tweets he was responding to, and I got a little disgusted. The one that bothered me the most was by Tee Major (@Tee_Major) reading “’Never Forget’ September 11 2014 [ONE DAY ONLY] 20% OFF all digital weight training, bodyweight training…” I don’t need to finish the rest of the tweet because it’s very clear what he was advertising. Some brands are using this day of remembrance and sorrow as chances to promote and advertise their brands and products because the “NeverForget” hashtag is so prominent in the Twitter-world today.
The man that was replying to the tweets, Mike Monteiro, has been spending the day responding to different companies. For example, in response to Tee Major, he wrote, “I wanna get ripped and kick terrorist ass, @Tee_Major!” In some cases, I think he went too far, such as in response to Applebee’s simple tweet: “We will never forget,” attached with a picture, Monteiro responded, “Thank you @Applebees. When we pulled Mother’s body out of the wreckage we dragged it to Applebees. And you guys gave us free sodas.” In my opinion, I think Monteiro took the Applebees tweet too far, as Applebees did not use a hashtag, did not promote themselves or any type of special discount, nor did they offer free sodas.
It’s a rather obvious statement that brands and companies are not people, but brands and companies are run by people. Is it wrong for companies to comment on historical events that define us as a country, or should they keep their tweets to themselves? At what point does it become inappropriate for companies to use popular social media hashtags as advertisement (for example, if it’s #LaborDay, would it be wrong for Sears to use that hashtag to promote their Labor Day weekend sale?)