Monday, August 29

The Marketing of a Hurricane

I am not one of those people who gets upset when storms are not as bad as predicted.  Having lived through three floods in two years on the Delaware River, I have no problem when a storm wimps out.  Plus just because you didn't get it bad, doesn't mean that everyone else is safe.  There were a lot of people badly affected by that storm, by nearly every storm.

But I do find it interesting to watch the "marketing machine" kick in when there's an impending storm.

And I'm not just talking about the media.  Sure, the media needs content and there's nothing richer than a looming storm and nothing more engaging than watching a reporter stand out in really windy rain (have to admit that I'm a bit over that ... Anderson Cooper did it once to great fanfare and it's never been the same since).

I'm talking about the hoarding and the stocking and the local business marketing.  It's fascinating.

Some of it's good like the Hurricane Party at the local watering hole down the street that was offering Hurricane drink and other appetizer specials.  Or the Be Our Guest promotions that I wrote about the other day.

Some of it's not so good though, like the price of chicken at my supermarket that went from $1.99 a pound to $5.99 a pound over night.  Hmmm.  Or my local gas station that only had premium gas to offer which was priced $.50 higher than the day before.  Or the fact that there wasn't a battery in sight for miles.  That's a part of the marketing machine that I'm not too crazy about.

I have to admit that I succumbed to the marketing myself.  I did.  I watched the news programs, ran out and got gas, stocked up on the staples, and did all the things that the marketing machine told me to do.  But I did try to keep it in check.  Was I happy when I didn't have to use any of them .... relieved!

Sending best wishes to those affected by the storm, big or small.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect


  1. The way Bloomberg was regurgitating, "... it could prove deadly to stay in your home... your safety is at risk, etc..." felt way over-hyped to begin with. Yes, he was overreacting from the guffaw from the snow clean up from the winter and didn't want to have his pants down again just in case it was bad. But there is a responsibility NOT to overreact as to not cause painc-buying and price gauging. My wife went to 5 Duane Reade's and couold not find a single flashlight battery, or flashlight (we needed one more). And the markets were jammed like there was going to be a governmental regime change. This is not a marketing point so I don't know why I rant here, but reckless dialogue by Bloomberg like what happened here was as much to blame (or more) than the commercial establishments.

    PS I would say don't go to that gas station again to show your disappointment, but I know how tough it is to find a close station.

  2. So Price Gouging was deemed illegal and a punishable offense during the "state of emergency". I dont know if your area was established as such, but I know Connecticut was. They made multiple warnings to vendors that price gouging would be seriously punished, and luckily i saw none of that.

    That being said, if you took some pictures of the prices and the locations you should report them.

    My issue with the media, on the other hand, is that they hype up storms SOOOO much that this one did't feel that darn scary - until it hit us.. Then I realized how bad it was. I was without a lot of things because I refused to believe the hype. Sure, I made sure my batteries in my flashlight was charged, my pets were indoors, my patio furniture was safe.. the typical "storm" preparations.. but I didn't go nuts buying things. Now we wont have power for 7 days and.. well.. the stores are bare and there's little food in my house.. That being said, I'm not going to starve.. i just wish I stocked up on propane for my grill, and some instant coffee..