Bed Bath And Beyond Sees The California Earthquake As An Excellent Marketing Opportunity?

Reader PlusTax says he got an email (above) advertising disaster preparedness supplies from Bed Bath and Beyond a few hours after the recent earthquake in California.

I got this flyer this morning via email less than 24 hours after our “massive” Earthquake out here in Los Angeles. Between the local news media being a bit reactionary by preparing us for doomsday and this, It’s time to move back east to Chicago and more solid but a bit colder ground.

Quick thinking, BB&B… you have to strike while the ground is still shakin’.


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  1. octopede says:

    So this would be the, ah, ‘Beyond’ part, I guess.

  2. sir_pantsalot says:

    Is that pack really going to help you when you catch fire as you are getting caught in a mud slide and the earth begins to shake? That is some bag.

  3. floraposte says:

    Move back if you wish, but after our Illinois earthquake in April, I received a push for earthquake insurance from my insurance guy within a week.

  4. nicemarmot617 says:

    @octopede – You gotta watch out for that beyond part.

    What would we be saying if they sent this out on Monday?

  5. johnva says:

    What’s so bad about this?

  6. sir_pantsalot says:

    The special New Awlins edition is just an empty bag that you fill with whatever you want after the tragic event has happened.

  7. @sir_pantsalot:

    If there is an earthquake, there is a great chance that you will be without utilities (electric, telephone, internet) for some time, depending on how severe the quake is, and how close you are to the epicenter.

    Being prepared in advance with certain essentials (an “earthquake kit”) will help you get by and survive during this time.

    For the MINIMUM, it is recommended that you keep available (depending on the size of your family) three days worth of bottled water, canned food, as well as flashlights with fresh batteries, and a transistor radio, so you can keep up on the situation, since you won’t have television or internet without electricity. You will most likely have to rely on old-fashioned transister radios.

    The kit is not meant for when your house is burning down — If that was the case, you’d be going to the nearest Red Cross shelter. But when you are simply without the essentials, and stuck at home, the earthquake kit can be a lifesaver.

    Sure, BB&B is out to make a profit, but I have no problem with this type of marketing. You can buy a kit from them, from the Red Cross, from someone else, or just build up your own earthquake kit.

    The point is to be prepared.

  8. ekthesy says:


    Nothing. This IMO is responsible corporate citizenship.

    You need a disaster kit with supplies. You cannot make those supplies yourself, therefore you must purchase them somewhere. BB&B would like you to purchase them at their store, and has made it easy, convenient and fairly priced.

    This should be a KUDOS to BB&B, not a snark.

  9. MayorBee says:

    Rule 22: A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
    Corollary: An even wiser man can feel profit rumbling in the ground.

  10. Yeah, I’m going to have to side with BB&B on this one. It does seem a little opportunistic, but it isn’t like someone couldn’t use the stuff they are advertising in the event of an emergency.

  11. Clobberella says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I had the misfortune to work at a Radio Shack in South Florida not so very long ago. Every time there was even a whisper that there might be a tropical depression or somesuch 2000 miles off the cost, my manager would find the satellite maps online, print them out, and stick them on the front doors and windows (updated hourly) and leave the Weather Channel on as loudly as possible inside the store. We had a display of batteries and weather radios and cell phone car chargers and all kinds of things that we would bring out during such times. It’s really much too easy to take advantage of people during a natural disaster, even during just the possibility of a natural disaster.

  12. johnva says:

    @Dead Wrestlers Society: Yep. During hurricane season, you see all kinds of similar advertisements in the hurricane zone. And people do buy it, and it is useful sometimes.

  13. sir_pantsalot says:

    @Dooley: REALLY???

    I know. My point was that these people live in an area with lots of natural disasters and they should already be prepared. If they are not prepared before then slim chance of them changing their mind.

  14. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    I can’t wait till we see the true ‘Beyond’ kit that includes thousands of stone soldiers and all your pets mummified to whisk you away to the afterlife on gossamer cushions!

  15. @Clobberella:

    There’s a difference… Hurricanes get warnings (and I agree with you – the media hype it up, and stores capitalize on it — I have family in Florida)

    However, there is NO warning of an earthquake. Yesterday’s quake was our warning, or should I say our “reminder” that California lies on a bevy of faultlines, and that we should be prepared.

    Earthquakes cannot be predicted, unlike weather patterns such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like.

  16. SomatraFlint says:

    I think it’s a good thing overall that they’re doing this. The
    earthquake is fresh on people’s minds and this is a good opportunity to
    get people prepared for the next time around. It’s not like they’re
    gouging their customers or trying to con them into buying something they
    don’t need. In a few weeks, people will have forgotten the earthquake
    and are far less likely to prepare themselves for the next one. Get
    them while they’re paying attention.

  17. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I live on the Texas Gulf Coast, where we have a hurricane strike seems like every year at least. I buy emergency supplies every month or two to add to or rotate my existing supply cache. If my date of purchase happens to coincide with someone else’s natural disaster, it’s just brute force coincidence.

  18. InThrees says:

    I would see it as an excellent marketing opportunity if I sold things that would be helpful during varying degrees of ‘earthquake aftermath.’

    It’s not even done in poor taste, what’s the issue here?

  19. Jim Fletcher says:

    @sir_pantsalot: I moved to Mobile, AL a few months before Hurrican Ivan tore us a new one. I had no idea what to expect, and it was only about 18 hours before landfall that anyone I had met down here thought to ask me if I had supplies.

    Yeah, it was mostly my foolishness, but if some retailer had sent me an email saying, “Hey, a big freakin’ hurricane is about to tear off your roof and leave you without the means to cook for 4 days, so come down and buy some canned soup!” I certainly would have been all over it.

  20. Hate_Brian_Club_I'mNotOnlyThePresidentI'mAClient says:

    PlusTax, I’m in Chicago and willing trade you straight up, it’s 95 here today and I’ll take earthquakes over oppressive heat any day.

    If you act fast I’ll throw in my tickets to Lollapalooza.

  21. Scalvo2 says:

    Fear sells.

  22. macinjosh says:

    This is disgusting! They should make a public apology and mail out coupons for 20%.

    Oh wait….

  23. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    So the “Beyond” part, they also sell car radiators and electric cattle prods, right?

  24. macinjosh says:

    er, crap….

    “20% off.”

  25. amed01 says:

    @sir_pantsalot: You forgot to mention the special toxic mold lining of those New Awlins bags!

  26. picardia says:

    I think the phrase “corporate citizenship” is rather “corporate doublespeak,” but I don’t see anything wrong with this either. Yeah, BB&B is trying to make a quick buck. In this case, however, they are selling something that could be genuinely helpful and that more people should probably own. (I have a disaster kit in my apartment, just in case.) Every once in a while, the forces of craven capitalism do in fact work for the greater good. IMHO, a lot less often than generally advertised, but sometimes.

  27. cpt.snerd says:

    @InThrees: I agree – if I were them, I’d do the same thing. It’s still fresh in people’s minds – I don’t believe there was anything serious (loss of life, etc but I’m not 100% sure) so it’s okay to tell people to be prepared and not let a more serious one cause more serious personal harm by not having this pack.

  28. Xerloq says:

    That’s an abnormally fast moving marketing department to get an email blast out that fast. I think this is just a coincidence.

  29. uomdeacon says:

    @nicemarmot617: Isn’t this the place where I can buy a remote control that will control time?…

  30. ohiomensch says:


    We recently had a quake in ohio too. When I got our new homeowners policy this month, there was a letter attached stating that earthquake damage was no longer covered and would have to be purchased in addition to our current policy if we wanted it.

  31. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    What? No Lavender or Fresh Wind scented candles or lotion! I mean, if I gotta take a bath in a cesspool, I need to smell fresh!

  32. Fujikopez says:

    @Xerloq: Agreed. I used to work for BB&B. Any type of mailing would be drawn up, printed, and discussed with the store staff (in our weekly management meetings) far in advance. IMO, it’s not “great timing” like previous posters have said. Great timing would have been a week ago.

  33. Fujikopez says:

    @Fujikopez: Err, I just realized that it was an email, not a mailer. Oops.


  34. lalaland13 says:

    All my friends have earthquake registries at Bed Bath and Beyond.

  35. @sir_pantsalot:

    Understood, and yes we should all be prepared (We being those of us who live in Southern California) for an earthquake, but when something like this happens, it wakes up complacency. We haven’t had a big tremor in a long time, and people get lazy. Those kits that we do have may have expired food/water or drained batteries. It is a time like this that shakes us (pun intended) into reality, and gets us to go and update our kits.

    This is true for anyone who lives in an area prone to natural disasters… Someone in Florida should always be prepared for a hurricane to pass through. But sometimes it takes something like this to remind us.

  36. failurate says:

    @Xerloq: They probably had it ready to go for just an occasion like this.
    I don’t see anything wrong. If I sold stuff that could be useful during/after an earthquake, when is the best time to let people know that I sold such stuff? Right after something jogs the publics brain into thinking that they should gather stuff that might be useful during/after an earthquake. It’s like synergy or something.

  37. jjeefff says:

    FACT: An emergency kit can save your life in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

  38. Rippleeffect says:

    @sir_pantsalot: They should be prepared, but rarely are. I assume you’ve never visited our fine LA area?

  39. Sparkstalker says:

    Hush you, with all that logic and stuff. I bet you the marketing department had been sitting on that, just waiting to take advantage of a situation like this </sarcasm>

    Seriously, it just looks like a case of good (or bad) timing. If they sent out an email next week that started “Remember last week’s earthquake?”, then I’d call it predatory marketing…

  40. Everybody should be prepared for the worst. Or at least try to be prepared.

    I drink bottled water at work. Don’t give me no crap, the local city well water really sux (I have really good water at home, so it is just that one city well that is having problems).

    At the start of every hurricane season I purchase extra pallets of bottled water and store the water in my warehouse. The water will not go bad as I will consume the water and replace it with my monthly purchases.


    BTW, I just crunched the numbers. FEMA (like they would know) recommends a two week supply of one gallon per person per day. What I am storing in my warehouse is hardly enough water for my extended family for a two week period. I am buying more water this week.

    The same thing for canned foods. The Wife likes volume shopping at Sam’s. Get a case of soup and store it. It won’t go bad and over the course of a year we will consume a good amount of it or donate it to food banks. Other foods can be purchased and stored the same way.

    Went through an earthquake years ago. Lost a lot of utility services for a day or so. Boxed Mac & Cheese cooked over a charcoal grill with Tuna on Saltines was not a great meal… but it was a meal.

    My Grandmother grew up on a farm in the frigid tundra of Northern Minnesota. She always had an emergency box in the trunk of her car that must have weighed 100 lbs. In later years she lived in the burbs of Chicago and still carried her emergency box in the trunk of her car. Bottled water, food, flares, jackets, gloves etc. Those gloves gloves sure came in handy one cold night when I was driving her car and had a flat tire.

    Try to be prepared. Never know when your own preparedness will save your life or make your tasks easier to perform.

  41. HogwartsAlum says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with it. I would totally buy one. Winter’s coming. Thanks for reminding me, BB&B. I might go buy one right now!

    Thank God I had a Sterno stove after the January 2007 ice storm which shut off power to the entire city here. For twelve days I had no heat or electric. Spent the first three days in the house with no phone either, because the storm was ongoing. I was completely cut off.

    I had water (pipes were fine; hot water heater is gas) and canned food and plenty of coffee and cocoa. I also had a battery powered radio and an oil lamp. If I’d had a wood stove or fireplace, I could have stayed home instead of going to a motel for the next nine days.

    The little Sterno stove and my little cowboy campfire coffeepot were great. I bought them thinking I might go camping sometime, but not that I might need them at home. And the $25 WalMart down blanket saved me from freezing to death. :)

  42. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @sir_pantsalot: Hey, at least the mud will put out the fire.

  43. @Xerloq: 24 hours is slow in Costco time. I went to Costco about 6-7 hours after the earthquake, and they had already stacked cases of water right next to the entrance. It was the very first item you saw when you walked in. The next item was the disaster-food-in-a-bucket.

  44. FrankReality says:

    I don’t think this is inappropriate. Timely, but not out of line.

    Now had it struck with fear monging of “the big one is coming”, that would be a bit over the top.

  45. AgentTuttle says:

    Blood Bath and Beyond. haha. Simpsons reference,… sorry.

  46. ChuckECheese says:

    Everybody. Must. Rent. The movie “The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake.” It was a 3-hour (or longer) TV mini-series from about 1990, now on DVD. So bad it’s good: Cliche writing and clunky acting, and the best cringe-worthy late-80’s/early 90’s clothes, hair and accessories. The entertaining part is that absolutely nothing happens for the first 2 1/2 hours, giving you plenty of time to eat chips, shout at the TV, and talk about what life was like back when everybody wore tight acid-wash jeans, shoulder pads, and drove cars with shiny aluminum accent panels.


  47. I don’t really see this as ambulance chasing here. They sell stuff that you might want to have in case of an emergency. One just happened. So they’re reminding people where they can get the stuff in case/when it happens again. If there was a *personal* tragedy that affected one person and they hyped that up, then that would be different.

    Like… I dunno, some kid gets kidnapped and they said “don’t let this happen to you” get this gps wrist bracelet! that would be in really bad taste.

    So… nothing bad here.

  48. Miguel Valdespino says:

    Disaster kits are one of those things that most people don’t think about when things are going good. People just don’t buy them unless something puts disaster on their mind. The company benefits. People who buy them benefit. The $49.99 price shown doesn’t seem to be excessively gouging the customer for what’s shown. It’s certainly higher than the individual prices of the items, but you can just pick up this kit rather than tracking down individual items and assembling it.

  49. vladthepaler says:

    Hm. I didn’t know there was an earthquake in California.

    Sure the ad is tasteless, but ads are. No different from all the flag-vendors who popped up after the WTC went down.

  50. seanSF says:

    How is the ad tasteless? There is no better time to remind us Californians that we should have a preparedness kit than when the earth shakes. Hm, speaking of which…

  51. Sian says:

    Well everyone should have an emergency bag and a bug-out bag, and keep their stock updated.