Being in New Jersey through the Fall of 2012, we’re something of an expert on misery. Twelve days after Hurricane Sandy knocked the power out, it was still out. Right after that, a Nor’easter laid 8″ of icing on the cake.


In short, we know misery.

The perfect time to intersect with prospects is when they have a real need. If your product or service fits and selling it at that time will help them, then by all means go to market during duress.

Marketing to those in misery? Tread carefully.

  1. Make sure your offering is truly useful for your prospect during the time of need. You can’t fake this. You’re either relevant to the issue, or you’re not. See examples below.
  2. Tone matters. Keep the message straight. See the American Apparel example below. While it doesn’t immediately come of as directly mean-spirited, it’s offensive in its thoughtlessness.
  3. Timing is everything. You must have the campaign planned out in advance. And why not? There are hurricanes, nor’easters, and earthquakes every year. Get everything in place and be ready to help those in need. Like the insurance example below, this included the media buy with

By the way, why haven’t bottle water companies figured this out yet? They should have pulled 20 of their delivery trucks onto Staten Island ASAP and given it away.  BTW, there might be another e-coli scare in NYC this summer. Get your bottled water give-away plan in place now.

Dodge Ram / Weather Channel /First Response Team

The Weather Channel and Ram Truck partner with a disaster relief organization called First Response Team of America by donating three Ram Heavy Duty trucks to the First Response Team. The Weather Channel Companies launched an exclusive cross-platform series of in-the-field “Responding by Storm”  reports chronicling the works of the First Response Team of America. Lots of photo opportunities of the trucks going by.

To me, this one seems a little less genuine. It’s almost too perfect. Click here to see for yourself

Travelers Insurance

This one really caught my eye right away. They rotated other banners with a check-list to prepare and provided useful preparation ideas. All in all, a bit quiet, but a great media placement that took a lot of planning. It was there even before Sandy turned west and lined up on the Jersey shore.


Like the Travelers idea, this one got points for timeliness. It was in rotation with the others even before the storm turned west. Again, not great creative, but it also nails the tone and manner.

If they had been ready on the scene, handing out fresh batteries and flashlights, that would have been a slam dunk.  You see, it’s not enough to just capitalize on the timing of your advertising. Companies should insert themselves where their products are needed. Give it away. Be a good corporate citizen.

American Apparel

NJ ad agency AM app
This is an example of thoughtless tone. The message itself isn’t really offensive. It became offensive as the storm turned into a complete tragedy. The Twitter slamming was a “pile on” mostly because of past bad behavior by American Apparel. This one points out the importance of not going “cute” with your tone or messaging.

Learn more about our NJ ad agency approach by clicking here.

Tagged with →  
Share →