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Case Study #20 | American Apparel Apologizes for Challenger Photo

We’ve spent hours reading stories of how social media was used out of context and caused brands a lot of pain, followers and money.

The moral of the story – Anyone (brands big and small) can make a mistake.

Let’s learn from their mistakes, shall we?


American Apparel’s social media manager posted an image for July 4th on Tumblr. The image that was assumed to be fireworks (or clouds — that’s undecided) was actually a picture of the space shuttle Challenger exploding. The company apologized stating that their SMM was born after the Challenger disaster and didn’t realize what the picture was.

The company is quoted, “We sincerely regret the insensitivity of that selection and the post has been deleted.”


What can we learn from this?

Many companies outsource or have a team of individuals of all ages. This is a prime example where two eyes are better than one. Maybe if someone else had looked at the post, it wouldn’t have been posted on the company page.



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