9/11 is approaching. Does your brand join the conversation or not?

911The anniversary of 9/11 is coming up on Thursday. It’s a sad memory and a time of thoughtful reflection for most. And at the risk of sounding too much like a marketer or social media strategist (which I admit, I am), I want to remind students about an age-old communications tactic. If you want to be part of the conversation, talk about what’s on everyone’s minds right now.

With that said, this coming week you will probably see lots of social media postings and commercials about the 9/11 anniversary. You’ll see postings from your liked/followed companies and brands offering their 9/11 tribute. You’ll see special ads created just to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary (here are a few examples). Note that the first two commercials were well received. The third one – not so much.

But here’s the question. Should your brand or product reference 9/11 in its marketing? Will your followers see you as a thoughtful partner or a shameless marketer? There’s no clear answer to this. A lot has to do with your product or brand and your followers.

For example, is there ANY relationship between your brand and 9/11? The first example from the link above was from State Farm Insurance. They sell insurance. Their ad makes sense. What’s more – the ad was really well done and didn’t leave me feeling “icky” after. Compare that with the Marriott hotel, which offered complimentary coffee and free mini muffins on the anniversary of 9/11. Free mini muffins? Really? That not only seems trite – it also feels icky. (On a side note, some of the 9/11 hijackers stayed in a Marriott hotel the night before the attack).

As savvy marketers and social media strategists that I know you are all becoming, this is a topic I want you to think about and comment on. What makes sense for your brand? Does commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 have ANY place in your marketing or social media? I look forward to your comments. Until then, thank you to all my students and their families who are firefighters, police men/women or are on active/reserve duty in the military. I respect and appreciate your service.

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