WARNING: Don’t Try and Capitalize on 9/11

Wanting to engage your brand with 9/11 and its anniversary is tough, but can be done smartly. People find it insensitive when brands try to use such days of remembrance as attempts to capitalize and bombard the public with product placement.

 Here are some of the most controversial attempts from brands this past Wednesday.

First, AT&T posted this image across all their social media platforms.

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They quickly received a backlash, which led them to remove the photo and Tweet a public apology.

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Although AT&T has tried to show that their photo was merely an effort of respect, this photo is still generating heated discussion and criticism of how AT&T’s tweet was a “tasteless” attempt at a marketing opportunity.

Another brand that has received much criticism is the Lakers, who tweeted a photo of Kobe Bryant with a commemorative ribbon of an American flag on his jersey.


This photo displays the widely used hashtag #neverforget used to honor the 9/11 victims. While some fans initially viewed the photo as an attempt at humor, most were outraged. The Lakers deleted their tweet and clarified that there use of the photo was to demonstrate “how we commemorated 9/11 in the 2001-02 season, shortly after the tragedy occurred, because we wanted to show our support of what we felt at that time and continue to feel now… Ultimately, our intent was to honor the spirit of remembering a day that we should all never forget.”
Lastly, HBO used 9/11 as an opportunity as an opportunity to remind viewers to watch Sex and the City as a way to commemorate “all the reasons why we love NY.”



Should you choose to commemorate one of the worst aviation disasters in human history, you should purposefully avoid involving your company’s products.

Here are some examples of how companies smartly used sentiment to generate tweets that were well received because they simply shared their thoughts and prayers while encouraging their audiences to do the same.

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3 thoughts on “WARNING: Don’t Try and Capitalize on 9/11

  1. I hadn’t seen the Lakers or HBO tweet before this, not the best way to remember 9/11. On the flip side, I think Sherwin-Williams was very proactive in taking the day off from tweeting. Thanks for sharing this round up.

  2. I had no idea of all the other companies capitalizing on 9/11. I just heard of the AT&T one. This was really informative. I agree with Professor Lee, it was short and to the point!

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