On the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, DraftKings created a “Never Forget” bet, which consisted of a three-team parlay featuring the Yankees, Jets, and Mets all to win their games on Monday. DraftKings faced criticism immediately on social media.
A few hours later, DraftKings issued an apology for the controversial 9/11-themed bet that briefly appeared on their platform. “We sincerely apologize for the featured parlay that was shared briefly in commemoration of 9/11,” DraftKings said. “We respect the significance of this day for our country and especially for the families of those who were directly affected.”
Brett Eagleson, whose father lost his life in the World Trade Center attack, expressed his dismay at the offer, describing it as “tone-deaf.” “It is shameful to use the national tragedy of 9/11 to promote a business,” Eagleson told The Associated Press. “We need accountability, justice and closure, not self-interest and shameless promotion.”
9/11 is a day of reflection and mourning, not for profit or self-promotion. Therefore, brands using the date as a chance to promote a service or product trying to make it a part of the story is never a good idea. Unfortunately, in addition to DraftKings, brands like Walmart and AT&T have also made this mistake in the past.
Hopefully, brands can learn from these situations and be more empathetic to the sensibilities of the audiences they serve.