PR experts always say that you should have a disaster plan in place, just in case a marketing campaign goes sour or a misfortune falls upon your brand.
Still, no matter how well prepared they were, Warner Bros. could never have predicted the horrible tragedy in Aurora, CO during an opening night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
The company reacted in the right way, showing respect for the victims and their families by cancelling glitzy red carpet premiere events in Mexico, Japan and Paris.
TV ads for the movie were also reportedly rescheduled by some networks, and Warner Bros. also pulled the trailer for "Gangster Squad"—a period drama that featured a scene in which agents spray machine-gun fire into a crowded movie theater from behind the screen—from the web and theaters.
For it's part, DC Comics decided to pull issue #3 of "Batman Inc. from stores. Originally slated to go on sale today, the publisher decided to hold release of the comic for a month, citing sensitivity issues.
While some message board posters said the delay in release of the comic was "letting the terrorists win," I disagree.
Americans are understandably nervous about the movie theater experience now. Some friends I've talked with have said that while they are eager to see the last installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, they'll now wait a month or so, or possibly even until it comes out on DVD.
Others who went to the multiplex this weekend said for the first time ever, they took note of where the exits were when they entered the theater. And, they added, anyone who innocently got up to get popcorn or go to the restroom during the film were momentarily eyed with suspicion.
Now is the time for entertainment marketers to show restraint in how they promote their wares. While Warner Bros. and DC Comics are not responsible for the gunman's inexcusable and unfathomable actions, they are tied to incident and have to act responsibly.