When AT&T tweeted an image of a smartphone being held up against a darkened New York skyline, capturing an image of floodlights beaming where the World Trade Center towers once stood, social media users responded with disbelief.
On Slate, a commenter summed up the overall sentiment: "I think the offense lies in the difference between a tribute and an ad. This is an ad pretending to be a tribute, trying to capitalize off of the emotions surrounding 9/11 for profit."
The Dallas-based communications giant has since tweeted an apology for the ad: "We apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy."
Commenters on Twitter replied that the apology didn't sound genuine, but one person noted that branding was minimal, and that the smartphone used in the image doesn't have any markings.