Capitalizing on Tragedy: BP Oil Spill Case

Staying on top of the current trends and demands is awesome, and every marketer (especially affiliates) should be constantly monitoring the hot topics, events and anything else that may influence the market they are in. However, Thumbs downthere is one thing I am particularly strongly against, and that is capitalizing on tragedies. It happens almost after every major event of such kind. Back in March I wanted to blog about those taxi drivers that raised their fares ten-fold to take people away from the Moscow subway station where the suicide bombing attacks took place. I got busy with other things then, and didn’t get to write anything up… Now I see a very similar thing happening with the BP oil spill catastrophe. Hundreds of T-shirts (and other items) are now being sold online “in support” of boycotting BP. But look at the price tags! Many of those T-shirts are in the $30-$40 price range.

I couldn’t help but tweet out about this, and almost immediately got a response from a fellow affiliate marketer, Daniel M. Clark:

Capitalizing on tragedy

Another affiliate marketing friend, Jen Goode, chimed in shortly thereafter:

Capitalism on tragedy

It is sad “to sad to see capitalism on other’s pain”. It is so wrong that it makes me simply furious!!

5 thoughts on “Capitalizing on Tragedy: BP Oil Spill Case”

  1. Thanks for that, Geno. It’s definitely wrong, that’s for sure. A little background that I can’t fit into 140 characters: back in the late 90’s I worked for a company that produced silk-screened t-shirts (and other merch) for a variety of clients in South Florida. During the mid-00’s, I designed and sold t-shirts (and other merch) online for a couple of Print on Demand companies.

    Silk screened tees are produced in batches, and the larger the run, the greater the production cost savings. A large run can result in overhead as low as a dollar or two per shirt – sometimes even much less. With online Print on Demand, it’s a little different, but the companies have a base price that they require the artist to charge, and the artist can then mark up the shirts to make his won profit.

    A $35 dollar silk screened t-shirt brings almost the full amount back to the seller, give or take a couple of bucks depending on run size. A $35 shirt through an online Print on Demand company will bring back about $20 to the artist, give or take a couple of bucks.

    T-shirts and related merchandise are a massive, massive industry. Under most circumstances, it’s fantastic – but when people exploit tragedies like this, it makes me sick. If the primary concern was to raise awareness, they’d drop the retail price to put the shirt on as many backs as possible. To raise it as high as $30-$40 is pure greed.

    To those that say “but I’m giving the money I make on the shirts to charity!” I say, encourage people to give money to established charities themselves and drop your prices. If you say your goal is to raise awareness, prove it.

  2. Exactly my thinking, Daniel!! If you’re doing this to raise awareness truly fighting to make an impact, and not being driven by the monetary benefits that may be involved, do it for the cause!! Otherwise, you’re hurting the very cause by your actions.

    As always, thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. You are very right about this topic Geno. People trying to make a buck on people’s emotions, and it’s tragedy. Many people are selling hundreds of shirts out of the French Quarter in New Orleans claiming to give donations to those in need. I say challenge those people as to where the money is going and how much. I bet you will get a blank stare or two!

    $30-$40 is an outrageous price to be selling a t-shirt. As Daniel said, that is a massive profit margin indeed. There are simply too many greedy hands trying to get their share of the hype and it makes people think twice about giving all together.

    I live in Raceland, Louisiana, (about an hour north of Grand Isle) and I see the first hand effect of this oil spill all around us. I am a screen printer by hobby and want to do my part by selling t-shirts. I’ve come completely out in the open with how much, and where these donations are going. I think everyone should do the same to give the people who donate some sort of peace of mind.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Jarad; and yes, it is sad seeing “people trying to make a buck on people’s emotions”, or really on someone’s tragedy.

    Linda Buquet posted some food for thought (on affiliate involvement in similar situations) a few days ago too.

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