Possibly the worst offender was American Apparel, who sent an email blast for a "Hurricane Sandy Sale'' - targeting its price cuts to just those on the east coast. Even with the promise of "20% off", Twittersphere did not approve.
Gap followed suit with a slightly less aggressive move, attaching well wishes in the same tweet as a call to action for online shopping. Similar backlash ensued.
Call me naive, but I don't believe that either of these companies had entirely bad intentions when making these moves. Their vision, however, was short sighted. Tying the company's profit to their sentiment of compassion made them seem inauthentic. And that doesn't sit well in social media.
A better idea would have been to send the same sentiment but with a promotion donating portions of any online sales that day directly to those affected. See what that does? By changing the benefactor of the promotion from the company to those who are in need, you can align the organization with the concern.
The line between relevance and self-promotion can be thin. Do you think these companies went too far?