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Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Sandy’

PR Win: Governor Christie Officially Postpones Halloween

In case you didn’t notice, this has been a tough week for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he of the quick wit, sharp temper and big ambitions.

His state was hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, and we’d say it’s safe to assume he hasn’t gotten much sleep over the past three or four days: You may have watched him berate the mayor of Atlantic City for encouraging residents to stay at city shelters despite an earlier evacuation order; you may have heard him uncharacteristically praise President Obama’s storm response as “outstanding”; you may have seen footage of him together with the President this afternoon as the two surveyed the storm’s damage by helicopter.

This was all well and good, but today marks a far greater achievement for the Governor: he was won the week’s “best PR stunt posing as a government order” contest by officially postponing Halloween.

What does this mean, exactly? Let’s read the end of the official release, complete with charmingly arcane language:

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Atlantic City PR Team Downplays Storm Damage

Quite a bit of the recent Hurricane Sandy news coverage focused on the dramatic damage inflicted on lower Manhattan and areas of New Jersey–specifically Atlantic City. As we reported yesterday, the footage was bad enough to inspire a certain “Boardwalk Empire” fan in Philadelphia to start an advocacy campaign in the hopes of repairing the city’s iconic boardwalk as soon as possible.

Beyond the boardwalk, we’ve also heard reports about damage done to Atlantic City’s most important industry–gambling. When the casinos shut down, so does AC.

But the city and its tourism bureau have begun an understandable effort to push back against these reports of certain doom for a town that’s made a fortune on light-hearted fun. For example, Thomas Gilbert, district commander of AC tourism and employee of the state’s Attorney General, released this statement yesterday:

“The entire oceanfront Boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City casinos is undamaged with all dunes and lights intact. There is minimal-to no-visible damage to casinos and other businesses fronting the Boardwalk along the ocean.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk that was washed out by Hurricane Sandy is an area limited to the Boardwalk fronting the Absecon Inlet only. That small section of the Boardwalk is located in South Inlet, a prominent residential section of Atlantic City. It is a small stretch of Boardwalk that is being shown in video footage and photos.”

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More Poorly Executed Hurricane Sandy PR

Add Gap to the list of brands criticized for releasing Sandy-themed marketing messages during the storm. First there was American Apparel‘s “Sandy Sale“; then there was the Urban Outfitters email blast reading: “This storm blows (but you know what doesn’t?)” Yeah, that would be free shipping on all orders.

On Monday, Gap’s official Twitter feed earned negative feedback (and a full Mashable post) for trying to do the impossible: making statements of support for hurricane victims while simultaneously performing its primary purpose and promoting the Gap brand. Here’s the offending message:

OK, is this message insensitive? It could be seen that way, considering the fact that many who live in the affected area are currently without power and others suffered damage to their homes during the storm. Is it dumb? Certainly, because we can’t imagine too many people counting the hurricane lockdown period as a perfect time to buy chinos online. Was it “on brand”? Absolutely. Again, the purpose of the feed is, above all else, to promote the Gap.

Should we be offended by it? Come on.

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‘Boardwalk Empire’ Fan to HBO: Help Rebuild Atlantic City!

Fans of the well-dressed HBO drama “Boardwalk Empire” and its most important supporting actor, Atlantic City, may be upset by these striking photos of an iconic Jersey strip all but destroyed by yesterday’s storm (more footage here).

One particular viewer wants to see Atlantic City restored to its previous glory—and she’s decided to do something about it. Philadelphia resident (and presumed fan of conflicted gangsters) Hannah Sassaman launched a petition on Change.org last night “while watching ‘Boardwalk Empire’ as Hurricane Sandy moved past her own home.”

Sassaman’s plan: use crowdsourcing to convince the show’s cast and crew, as well as HBO higher-ups, to get involved in the recovery effort. There’s no doubt that Atlantic City will require millions of dollars to repair the damage done last night, and big names can certainly bring more attention to related fundraising drives; Sassaman says her effort was partly inspired by the surge in public advocacy that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Her letter, addressed to the show’s “producers, cast and crew”, reads:

“HBO has won huge acclaim and made millions with its captivating story about how Prohibition changed countless lives. With the horrible damage that Frankenstorm Sandy wreaked on the city’s businesses and homes, HBO can use its powerful media platform to raise money and support local, state, and federal relief efforts.

Please use the high profile of Boardwalk Empire’s writers, producers, and stars to raise money for Atlantic City at a time when it needs it so much.”

What do we think? Will Sassaman’s efforts help raise money for Atlantic City? And can the strip be rebuilt? We’d like to be optimistic: If HBO can build such a period-appropriate model of the boardwalk, then surely the city can, with time, return to its former glory (tackiness aside).

Final note: In case you need a little cheering up, here’s an Instagram’ed rainbow over Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. We never thought we’d write this, but thank you, Al Roker.

PR Fail: American Apparel’s ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’

The hipster dud makers and serial perverts who run American Apparel are no strangers to controversy and bad PR–the company’s former rep recently published a cute book titled “Trust Me, I’m Lying”, and his thesis seems to be that bloggers, reporters and other media personalities are just as dishonest as he is.

The company made another dubious promotional decision yesterday by advertising a 20% off “Hurricane Sandy Sale” for email subscribers living in areas affected by the storm. The message encouraged customers to stop by local branches “in case you’re bored” so they can save a couple of bucks on cheap, LA-made t-shirts guaranteed to fray at the seams within six months.

This characteristically insensitive email blast inspired a stream of outrage on Twitter, with many users promising to boycott the chain and its silver leggings once and for all.

But will this stunt really hurt the company’s reputation–or its sales numbers? We somehow doubt it.

We can’t expect much in the way of respectable behavior from American Apparel, which has grown into a big brand by creating a series of NSFW ads that feature everything from grandmas in tights to bottomless porn stars while brazenly dancing along the line between clever and creepy. And we just don’t think this newest spat of negative publicity and online outrage will do much to damage what has proven to be a very resilient business. If CEO Dov Charney has his way, AA could even manage to escape nine straight quarters of losses and multiple bankruptcy scares to become a profitable company again.

But mark our words: getting out of the red won’t make American Apparel any less sleazy.

Social Media Spread Fake Hurricane News, Pics

We’ve all heard about the power of social media to bring people together and help spread information quickly, especially during crises like the deadly storm that struck the Eastern seaboard yesterday, causing multiple casualties and untold billions in property damage.

Twitter was, of course, awash in updates last night as Hurricane Sandy struck–and for breaking news, the service was quicker and in many cases more helpful than more traditional news feeds like those on the New York Times and CNN websites. Co-founder Jack Dorsey went so far as to tweet:

But yesterday’s perfect storm also reminded us of social media’s dangers: many users both intentionally and accidentally tweeted fake photos and misleading news “updates” during the storm. Seen that crazy image of ominous clouds building behind the Statue of Liberty? The flooded McDonald’s? The scuba diver in the Times Square subway station? The shark swimming along a suburban main street? All fake.

In a few cases, this fakery could have placed real people in real danger.

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