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American Apparel Makes Major Social Media Flop

American Apparel apologizes on Twitter after posting an artsy picture of the Challenger explosion on Tumblr.
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jul 05, 2014

American Apparel has apologized after making a major social media flop.

On Independence day, the clothing retailer posted an artsy photo of the Challenger shuttle disaster and tagged it #smoke and #clouds .  (Via Tumblr / American Apparel)

The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart in 1986 just seconds into its flight, killing the seven crew members aboard. (Via CNN)

In under an hour, the company had taken down the photo and posted to their Twitter page, "We deeply apologize for today’s Tumblr post of the Space Shuttle Challenger.  The image was re-blogged in error by one of our international social media employees who was born after the tragedy and was unaware of the event."

The situation quickly made headlines with many news outlets questioning the company's decision to blame a young, international employee. 

Boston.com wrote, "You can't blame the young for the things that happened before they were born. And you can't really blame them for not knowing stuff you remember. ... But it's pretty safe to assume teenagers know about some of America's biggest tragedies."

Business Insider pointed out that the company has "American" in its name and advertises that its clothes are made in the USA, but still went ahead and blamed the scandal on the international employee it hired. (Via Business Insider)

While this Twitter user posted, "I don't know which reflects more poorly on your brand: the goofball who made the post or this lame explanation." (ViaTwitter / @ravidjain)

American Apparel's communications department has angered the public before. Remember the Hurricane Sandy Sale?

As Sandy battered the east coast in 2012, the company sent out an email offering 20% off to customers in the affected region, urging them to spend their time indoors shopping on its website "in case you're bored during the storm."(Via Mashable)

A Forbes reporter wrote at the time, "How in the name of common sense can you send an email like this out during such a tragic situation where oh by the way, people lost their lives?"

This latest fiasco comes at a rough time for American Apparel. Just last month the company's board moved to fire founder Dov Charney after allegations of his sexual misconduct with employees. Charney says the relationships were mutual and he will fight the firing.