I understand the difficulties that marketers face. They have to make a splash in an over-saturated media market, and it’s difficult to divert peoples’ attention away from not just their day-to-day, but away from all the other things that command their attention. Still, there are probably some places you just shouldn’t go.
Comparing the Asian tsunami to the destruction of the World Trade Center is probably one, though the underlying problem with this ad run is really that it’s not clear what the message is. How respecting and preserving the earth would have changed the outcome of the Asian tsunami in 2005 isn’t clear.
But if the twin tragedies of the Asian tsunami and the WTC attacks isn’t too over the line, comparing AIDS to Hitler probably is. In fact, I’d say comparing anything other than Hitler to Hitler is probably a foul in the game of marketing.