When a big brand decides to associate their name with a tragic event, the results are not always pretty. Recognizable brands made several blunders following the bombings.
Ford, for example posted a Facebook status after the second bombing suspect was captured. While there was nothing wrong with what Ford’s status update said, it was text placed on an image of two Ford police vehicles and also included the Ford logo and tagline — no mistaking who made the comment, but the post was considered by many to be insincere.
That’s the issue with brands publicizing their involvement during or following a tragedy. Many people simply think that companies that engage in such behavior are impersonal and trying to profit during a time of need or weakness. For a brand, that’s akin to walking on pins and needles.
For most brands, there’s no need to immediately jump into the fray and announce their involvement. It is usually better to wait. Smart brands know that getting involved where they can be of real assistance, and not use a tragedy as a direct marketing opportunity is the best way to garner positive association further down the road. Furthermore, successful brands stick with what they are good at, offer real assistance and wait until the dust has finally settled to communicate what they did, when and why.
Which is why I am so impressed with FedEx’s involvement following the Boston Marathon bombings. FedEx is donating it’s resources to deliver finisher medals to more than 2,000 runners who were unable to get their medals after the race.
To a non-runner, receiving a medal for finishing a marathon may seem like a trivial thing. But this is a finisher medal for The Marathon — Boston is considered the most prestigious marathon worldwide and for many, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
A FedEx employee who is a Bostonian and a runner talks about why delivering these medals is important, and what the medal symbolizes:
This year’s Boston Marathon medal will always symbolize the brightness of the human spirit. It will symbolize the kind hearts of runners from around the world. It will symbolize recovery and resilience.
Kudos to FedEx for offering their service to deliver the medals, and for demonstrating how to promote their involvement following the Boston Marathon bombing.
Ultimately FedEx would hope that there efforts will garner some attention in the media. A check of Google search results does not return any results other than the blog post on the FedEx site. The article was just published yesterday, so it is possible that the story has not been picked up yet. FedEx has already promoted the post to their social profiles, and several of those results appear for brand related searches.
Keep your ears and eyes open. I’ll be willing to bet that FedEx gets a fair amount of mentions for their efforts in getting runners their medals.