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…and not for businesses.

Last night I tweeted:

because I remember last year, and prior years when many companies, with no malicious intent, tried to insert themselves into a day of national remembrance.  It has become obvious that statements of sympathy and solidarity from an individual person can be wonderful while the identical statement, made from behind a company name or social media presence, is seen as insensitive or insincere.

On Facebook I followed up on that tweet with an addition saying “just don’t do it.”   Nobody I know would have gone beyond a simple statement of solidarity and respect and when I wrote it, I was not thinking about people actually using 9/11 to build a marketing plan.  I underestimated the stupidity of some people.

Today an Arlington, Virginia  yoga company decided that using the tragic loss of life that reverberated across the nation thirteen years ago was a good way to market their services in the form of a one day 20% off sale.  In case their customers needed more incentive to buy, they made it clear that  9+11 = 20 and that simple addition defined the sale.  (Just think of the savings they could have offered if the towers had fallen on New Years Eve.)

The sale page is currently up here but I expect it to come down soon, so here is a screenshot:

Bikram Yoga Arlingtons Patriot Day Sale

They promoted it with this tweet – now deleted:

Bikram Yoga Arlington's Tweet

The fact that people did not respond well to the sale is an understatement.  This small business serving a specific geographic area is now nationally known in a way that no business would ever want.

They are apologizing  on Facebook:

but if you click through to those comments you can see it is not going well.  People have become excellent spotters of faux apologies on social media.  Whoever is doing their posting and Tweeting should check out CASE.org’s How to Nail the Social Media Apology.  The apologies on Twitter came fast and furious at Bikram Arlington – @bikramarlington until the responses to the apologies appeared to overwhelm them.

@bikramarlington Apologies

Note that the oldest apology is where they went off track.  As CASE points out, if you are going to apologize, make sure you are apologizing for what YOU did and not how other people reacted to what you did.

This is not a new problem and the answer is not new either.  Bryan Joiner nailed it last year with:

The Washington Post wrote just wrote about this marketing mistake at Arlington yoga studio offers 9/11 discount, then a Ray Rice comparison

Note:  I’d like to thank Chelsea Corken for bringing this to my attention today.