Stop Walking On Eggshells

In a case of bad timing, Backcountry.com sent this email solicitation yesterday–a day when tornadoes ravaged communities in Alabama:

Today, the online retailer is sorry and busy backpedaling.

    Dear (insert customer’s name),

    We messed up. Yesterday, as the people of Alabama dealt with the devastating aftermath of an intensely damaging and life-taking tornado, we neglected to put a stop to the distribution of an email with the header: “Mother Nature hates you. Deal with it.” This was extremely insensitive and offensive, and we are so sorry.

    Please accept our sincerest apologies for this mistake. What was intended to be witty marketing copy may have been when we wrote these words two weeks ago, but in light of current events and the suffering of people affected by Mother Nature’s wrath, it is not only not witty, it is completely unacceptable.

    We at Backcountry.com send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone now faced with rebuilding their homes and their communities. And again, we extend our sincerest apologies for our lack of foresight and our complete insensitivity in sending yesterday’s email.

    Sincerely,
    Jill Layfield
    CEO
    Backcountry.com

This disturbs me. Not because I can’t believe how insensitive Backcountry.com’s email copywriter is. No. I can’t believe this is a PR problem for the company. What has happened to our sense of humor in this country? What has happened to our thick skin? It seems to me Backcountry.com is the perfect brand to stand by its poorly timed headline. If anyone can say, “Come on, toughen up and lighten up,” it’s a company that sells outdoor gear.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.