The Danger of Marketing During a Disaster

I’m alive and well in New York City. Now almost a full week after the storm, displaced from my home for the majority of it, I can report back on what I’ve seen and heard. And the first thing I wanted to discuss is the marketing messaging I’ve seen in the last week.

Granted, many companies did not have time to react to the storm. And many more do not split their email lists by geographic area. But there are dangers in marketing during tragedy and natural disasters. And I saw some of those first hand this week.

Here’s an example of the companies who handled it well.



But others didn’t fare so well. I got an alert about a deadline to publish my website from a company that I was reviewing for the blog. The alert told me that I had 24 hours to publish or my account would be cancelled. Too bad I had no power and no cell service at the time. So I was punished.

I got an email from a company telling me that they had a special offer for New Yorkers affected by the storm. The offer: 10% off all orders placed in the next week. What?

The dangers of marketing during a disaster is that you’re marketing to people who may have been affected, some far worse than others. You are far more likely to make enemies than friends, unless you have something really helpful or endearing to say.

Be safe.

Using Music as a Branding Tool

Music can be an important part of advertising. A popular trend these days in commercials is to use one song in the background of all of your commercials, or to introduce new songs with each new commercial.

A good example of the first is Chase, who have been using a song by Tim Myers called “Under Control” in all of their recent ads. Here is a sample:

A good example of the second is the Apple iPod series, which take advantage of their product’s association to music to introduce new artists to the world through their commercials. Here is an older one that helped launch Feist into the pop music spectrum:

In today’s world, where attention can be harder to get from any consumer, companies are searching for new ways to grab it. Music is a great tool for just that. You can tap into a part of the consumer’s brain that is always open. An ad can be made “watchable” just based on the accompanying music, elevating a commercial to an art form.

And in Chase’s case, they have used the song as a branding tool. People here that song, and they associate it with Chase because they have heard it so many times before. You can even download the song from their website at

In days past, a catchy jingle could make or break a marketing campaign. Today, music is playing a bigger role than ever before in capturing the attention and the interest of potential customers.