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President’s Choice's tasteless Sandy tweet: They weren't the only ones…

Galen Weston in a President's Choice commercial.

Loblaw

Update: President's Choice has since apologized for – and deleted – the offending tweet on its Twitter account.

In the wake of the megastorm that pummelled the eastern seaboard, there's room for gallows humour. (Policymic.com gets thumbs-up for "Hurricane Sandy, because God is tired of political ads too.")

But as corporations rush to profit from a disaster that has claimed at least 39 lives, the tone of we're-all-in-this-together jokes has turned to outrage.

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Earlier Tuesday, President's Choice had the gall to tweet "What's scarier? Hurricane Sandy or a beverage with marshmallow eyeballs?" Presumably, the idea was to hawk ingredients for Halloween treats. But instead of buying the joke, Twitter users are blasting the grocery chain for its insensitivity.

"Pretty sure the storm that's killed people from the Caribbean to Canada is scarier than a marshmallow eyeball beverage," Emma Willer tweeted.

Kevin Jagger followed with "Who has less tact? You or @americanapparel?"

American Apparel triggered an earlier backlash by offering customers in hurricane-ravaged states a 20-per-cent discount in its "Sandysale," reports the Financial Post.

"Nice job, American Apparel, capitalizing on tragedy," Fashion Wrap Up retorted on Twitter.

The offending slogan for the 36-hour sale – "In case you're bored during the storm" – was no doubt deemed "edgy" by jejune marketers at the desperately trendy, yet financially troubled, company.

Not to be outdone, Complex.com posted a list of "11 Hurricane Sales Worth Taking Advantage of." According to the site's twisted logic, if you're an East Coaster locked in your house, "you can afford to splurge a little to prevent you from going stir crazy."

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Shoebuy.com camouflaged the opportunism behind its 20-per-cent-off storm sale by pledging to donate $1 to the Red Cross for every order placed using the code "relief." But retailers such as Urban Outfitters (sale code: "all soggy"), Levi's and Club Monaco offered nothing more than free shipping to would-be shoppers waiting out the storm (who are unlikely to receive regular delivery service for days, or even weeks).

At a time when 8.2 million Americans are without power, let alone internet access, is corporate tact too much to ask?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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