Hey Sandy – how a catastrophic storm becomes a content marketing opportunity

On Friday I posted http://wp.me/pn6jX-GN about the barrage of campaign ads in advance of U.S. Election Day next week. While the political ad storm continues in full force, right now the East Coast of the U.S. is experiencing what some have called ‘Frankenstorm’ – a onetime hurricane named Sandy who is doing much more than saying ‘Arf’.

Through the lens of marketing I advance that there are some real missed opportunities. And I don’t think it’s because of professional restraint in not capitalizing on people’s misfortune. I’m not that much (or that kind) of a dreamer. Maybe it’s just that marketers have not thought about it yet.

News programs almost gleefully have been offering their coverage of residents from Florida to Maine preparing for the storm. If I did not know better I’d say that broadcast and satellite television/radio networks were working as content providers for local hardware stores (local True-Value or Ace Hardware for example), and big box DIY stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. In fact I wonder why Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t have ads in the can ready to be brought out in circumstances like a would-be devastating storm to drive people into their stores? After all, they are not even paying for the content created by newspapers, networks, cable television and radio stations.

Under the auspice of protecting and informing the public the media plays the fear card for one primary reason. It gets people to watch, listen and talk about the latest ‘storm of the century’. Here we are only twelve years into the century and I’d bet that moniker has been used for at least three storms if not more and we have 88 years yet to go!

I don’t want to make light of what is and can be responsible journalism which informs the public of imminent and potential risks. And given the downside to being under-prepared, being over-prepared is always the better way to go. However the unbelievable amount of content being provided that could be leveraged to drive in-store sales of countless items (way more than just flashlights and bottled water), is shocking to me in its omission.

If I were helping a hardware store or DIY store I’d be writing articles, and linking to all kinds of relevant content having to do with storm preparations, reparations, ways to pass the time during the storm (with and without power). It would not be a bad idea to promote old-fashioned board games leading up to the storm.

It’s not my intention to be callous or uncaring. Perhaps a bit opportunistic – but I have to admit I’m surprised I’ve not seen the content produced for an event like ‘Sandy’ leveraged to help drive sales of necessary and unnecessary items.

In advance of a storm like this we all know that some people will experience tremendous problems with flooding, loss of property and other personal items. I truly hope there will be no loss of life. And when it comes to Sandy’s departure we can all take solace that the sun will come out tomorrow.

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Advertising, Marketing stuff, Media and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hey Sandy – how a catastrophic storm becomes a content marketing opportunity

  1. Well said. And oh so true. I think the potential corporate decision-makers are afraid to go down the road of being accused of market-gauging. By advertising the benefits they obviously gain by catastrophe could damage their brand image. It’s like an insurance salesman throwing “fear of death” in frot of the consumer with images of coffins and grave yards. Could you have identified a “line” drawn by these companies? Or is that sensitivity wishful thinking?


  2. Great post and great question to pose. I agree with David Sussman on being perceived as opportunists in a disaster. Yet no one chastises the media for the state of fear that they perpetuate to keep people tuned to their station and, in most cases, the dire forecasts don’t happen. We just keep going back again and again.


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