• 09.11.12

Corporate Tweets About 9/11 Walk A Thin Line

Everyone from Cleatus, the Fox Sports Robot, to Waffle House would like to remind you that today is, in fact, September 11th. Should they?

It’s an odd juxtaposition, seeing the feather-light utterance “Waffles on the mind today” just beneath a tweet carrying only the somber hashtag #Remember911. The latter message on Waffle House’s corporate Twitter account seems perfunctory, something akin to Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza adding, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” If Waffle House had just not mentioned 9/11 today at all, though, might there be anything wrong with that?


It’s not only Waffle House of course; companies have been chiming in on Twitter today to commemorate the tragedy in droves. Comedian and Twitter provocateur Joe Mande went on a retweeting spree earlier in the day until his timeline was fully saturated with such messages. While none of them suggest the cynical underpinnings of the famous “Kim Kardashian dress” tweet in the wake of July’s Aurora shooting, the abrupt shift from consumer engagement to patriotic tribute feels loaded, to say the least.

At best, these dispatches seem obligatory–a covering of the bases (i.e. “Merry Christmas!”). Nobody wants to be called on the carpet for failing to mention the thing that’s on everybody’s mind. At worst, though, they could be interpreted as calculated, opportunistic, or pandering (i.e. “This company cares. So start buying.”)

Obviously these messages rub some people the wrong way (see responses below). If part of your business is engagement, though, is it disrespectful to just go about business as usual on 9/11? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

[Image: Flickr user Wally Gobetz]

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.