AT&T Can’t Help Itself

Social media was awash in messages of remembrance of 9/11 on the 12th anniversary of one of the saddest days of loss in America. Many of the tributes were heartfelt but a bunch had a “just phoning it in” quality.* Condescending Corporate Brand Page, for example, found a horse groomer posting a picture of a horse with the New York skyline clipped into its coat.

But AT&T’s tweet of a man’s hand holding up a smart phone to take a picture of the beams of light that mark Ground Zero was the popular winner for Worst 9/11 Tie-In Tweet or Facebook Post. One Twitter user noted, “Not an occasion for product placement, AT&T.”

As is almost always the case, the original sin could have been forgiven; the ones that follow are harder to overlook. In this instance, that sin would be AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s apology tweet, which included this line:

I consider that date a solemn occasion each year, a time when I reach out to those I was with on that awful day, share a moment of reflection for the lives lost and express my love of country.

Really Randall? It’s a day you “reach out?” Like to maybe, “reach out and touch someone?” Oh wait, that was AT&T’s long-running advertising slogan. Doh!

We agree with marketing and technology consultant David Berkowitz when it comes to companies trying to “engage” with us in social media.

“Unless you’re bringing something of value, the easy thing is just to keep your mouth shut.”

* Pun intended.