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Hurricane Sales and the Classy Companies

Over the last week Hurricane Sandy tore into the East Coast and totally ravaged her way through the Caribbean and into New York and New Jersey.

I was traveling to the West Coast on business when the hurricane hit, and I watched closely, keeping in contact with friends in New York and New Jersey for as long as they had a cell phone battery. Twitter and Facebook also kept me updated on what was going on as residents posted pics and updates. It also gave me the opportunity to see marketing at its best and worst.

I’m in marketing and business development. It’s what I do for a living, and I’m pretty good at it. I also don’t think that you need to be good at it to know that a natural disaster is NOT the thing to try and capitalize on to drive sales.

These people aren't worried about shopping. 
I watched in horror Monday as “Sandy Sales” popped up all over the web. 20% off for people stuck inside shopping, and special discounts for people on the East Coast. Because I bet they had nothing better to do than shop for new a new top. 

There were even some fitness companies giving some workout tips for those people stuck inside during the hurricane. Because when the Hudson River is approaching your door, you want to make sure your abs are tight. 

People sometimes lack class. Whenever there's a disaster there are people who make inappropriate jokes, but people are not companies, and I feel like companies should be held to a higher standard than the individual. 

For a company to make crass jokes, offer sales with inappropriate names, or otherwise use a disaster to promote their products and services is in poor taste, and companies should really hold themselves to a higher standard. The fact that some of the companies are apparel companies and New York is the fashion capital of the Unites States seems even worse. 

Subway trains don't run in this.
It's like kicking your enemy when they're down. 

Plenty of other companies dealt with the hurricane with class. I received numerous emails from companies who were sending well wishes to those affected by the hurricane, giving updates as to the status of their stores, warehouses and employees.

You can’t bitch about not getting your wrap dress when the people who work in the shipping department can’t get to work because the subway flooded.

Disasters are a time when people tend to show their true colors. Some people pull together and make the best of it, and others prey on the weak. Companies are no different. The thing you need to know though is what kind of company you’re buying from. Not all of them are all good, and none of them are all bad, but with social media and the scrutiny of the world, you must tread lightly when it comes to these things. Disasters can create all kinds of opportunity; just make sure that as a company you’re not marginalizing what people are going through in the name of profits.