A Few Clouds
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Local and national companies apologize for 9/11 ads
MILWAUKEE-- AT&T had the tweet up for about an hour, but it created an all-day firestorm on social media.
The tweet paired the words "Never Forget" with a picture of a hand holding a smartphone. On the phone's screen was the New York skyline, with beams of light where the Twin Towers once stood.
The question on social media users' minds: is AT&T using the Twin Towers to sell smartphones? Jean Grow, Associate Professor Strategic Communication for Marquette University, can't speak about the company's motivation, but thought the tweet was in poor taste.
"My first reaction is that this is pretty horrifying," Grow said. "It's insulting to consumers, it's insulting to people that lost loved ones, it doesn't work for the brand and it doesn't work for us as citizens."
A picture taken from a California Marriott hotel has also gone viral. A small card tells guests that in honor of those lost on 9/11, free coffee and mini-muffins from 8:15-8:45am. Closer to home, Tumbledown Trails Golf Course in Verona offered a discount for golfers. Nine holes of golf for $9.11. While these ads were likely not created by advertising professionals, Grow still whoever created them did a poor job. "they don't understand marketing, they thought they were doing something of interest, and the brand pays the price," Grow said.
The backlash against all three ads on social media was swift and harsh. All three companies apologized., AT&T deleted the tweet about an hour after it was posted, Tumbledown Trails promised to donate money to a 9/11 charity.
Grow says considerable damage has been done to each company's brand, but maybe not for long. "Consumers have short memories," she said.