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The Pitfalls of Real Time Marketing – Amazon Angers Gandolfini Fans

Today’s story about Amazon’s attempt to pay homage to James Gandolfini is a reminder that companies need to think twice about trying to profit (or being perceived to) from a natural disaster or, in this case the sad passing of a beloved celebrity.

For those of you catching up, James Gandolfini’s sudden death on Wednesday caught many by surprise.  Fans around the world mourned with many expressing their thoughts and sharing their condolences on social channels.  Some Sopranos fans most likely remembered Mr. Gandolfini by watching old episodes of the iconic show.  But the line was drawn when Amazon.com was perceived to try to profit from the tragedy.

The company briefly published a post to its Facebook page remembering Gandolfini, known best for his role as Tony Soprano, that included a link to purchase Sopranos DVDs on Amazon, according to the Consumerist. The company later pulled the post, but not before Facebook commenters could deride Amazon for its poor timing.

I doubt this was a deliberate move by Amazon to cash in on James Gandolfini’s death.  However, it should  be a lesson to other companies about the pitfalls of using a sad event to drive profits.  History indicates that there is a natural bump in sales after a celebrity’s death anyway, as seen in sales of Whitney Houston’s music after her death.  It’s important to think twice about how even a well-intended dedication will be perceived by loyal fans.

Tags : social media

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