American Apparel’s Social Media Flop

By: Kelsey Fuson

With social media taking off as perhaps one of the most influential information outlets, companies have no choice but to take extreme caution when spreading messages through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Holidays act as the perfect opportunity for companies to post and promote their brands by putting a festive spin on their products. All the while, many holidays are deep-rooted in tradition and history and sometimes even considered culturally sacred. This means that companies using these holidays to boost their brand persona should take even more care in ensuring a high level of sensitivity and understanding in their posts.

Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and other platforms were plastered from top to bottom in red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July last Thursday and companies took this day dedicated to patriotism to promote their summer specials.

American Apparel, who takes pride in producing all of their clothes in the USA and who also offers several American themed products, found the Fourth as an opportunity to post an image on their Tumblr in celebration of American independence.

What better way to do so then to post a simple yet alternative (what many consider American Apparel’s brand persona to be) photo of fireworks?

American Apparel challenger

Unfortunately, that is not what the selected photo depicted. The photo was instead a picture of the horrific 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion that heartbreakingly killed 7 astronauts just after take off. Originally modified and posted by a UK Tumblr user and artist, an American Apparel social media employee re-blogged the photo that clearly did not display fireworks with the hashtags: #clouds, #smoke.

As extreme outrage began to flood each American Apparel social media platform, the company attempted to take action by posting an apology tweet.

American Apparel apology

It seems as though this statement was more of an excuse than an apology. Rather than taking responsibility as a company, American Apparel pegged one employee who was supposedly too young or uninformed, adding even an even greater lack of professionalism to the situation. This is an extremely incompetent way of handling the situation and American Apparel will suffer great repercussions for both the original post and their response, as they clearly had underestimated the power and influence of social media.


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