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#BostonStrong: As Boston Returns To Its Marathon, Brands Keep It Respectful
When it comes to the perilous business of brands joining the conversation about tragic news events, the risk usually outweighs the reward.
The ham-handed attempts — SpaghettiOs’ mascot waving an American flag in a head-scratching remembrance of Pearl Harbor or AT&T’s tacky “Never Forget” tweet last September 11 — are so memorable and damaging that brands seem to be wising up and sitting on the sidelines.
But anniversaries remain a tempting marketing target — especially when the narrative is one of rebirth and redemption, like today’s first running of the Boston Marathon since the bombing at the finish line last year. Showing humanity as a brand can be a positive thing, but it’s difficult to know how messages will be perceived.
The brands that have engaged in the #BostonStrong conversation don’t seem to have made any major missteps. Some criticized UnderArmour’s tweet — “Today, we’re ALL #BostonStrong — last week on the April 15 anniversary of the bombing for being inappropriate, “phony and cheap”, but it definitely wasn’t a PR disaster. Notably, however, today the apparel company didn’t repeat a similar message on social media.
And those that did engage, kept a respectful tone, as least in the examples I came across. One of the best came from Aerosmith, the hall of fame rock band with the Boston pedigree:
That moving tribute — part of an ESPN E:60 Presents special about the bombing’s aftermath — was released last week. This morning I checked in on the #BostonStrong stream on Twitter and Facebook but didn’t see much real-time commercial activity. It seems that many of the brands that tweeted about the anniversary during the last week — Samuel Adams and Gillette, among others — either sat out the conversation or didn’t make explicit reference to the tragedy today.
What I saw seemed very tasteful. I’ve posted a selection below. What do you think? Did any go over the line? Did you see any unfortunate attempts that I missed?
— Delta (@Delta) April 21, 2014
Dunkin’ Donuts salutes everyone who is part of today’s 2014 Boston Marathon. #BostonStrong
— Dunkin’ Donuts (@DunkinDonuts) April 21, 2014
— Poland Spring ® (@PolandSpringWtr) April 21, 2014