November 1st, 2012

Capitalizing on Disaster, Sometimes With Results That Match

By Stuart Elliott
New York Times

ADVERTISING, marketing and public relations executives are asking a familiar question after Hurricane Sandy: What is the difference between appropriate efforts that are perceived as public service and inappropriate efforts that are demonized as capitalizing on bad news?

The storm had not even died down when disputes began to flare online, particularly in social media, about how companies were reaching out to consumers and reporters in ways that included posts on Twitter and e-mails.

On Madison Avenue, the concept of ads seeking to take advantage of consumersí interest in current events is known as borrowed interest. Most instances are benign, like the ads with election themes that come out during presidential campaigns every four years.

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