September 11, 2012

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard about the attacks, me? I had just started secondary school and was making my way from French class to P.E. Odd that I can remember that but couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday!

It hadn’t really dawned on me that today was September 11th until when listening to the radio this morning I heard that US President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney have pulled their attack ads on each other as the country marks the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. 

I also hadn’t realised that many of the major American broadcast and cable news networks went ad free on September 11th following the tragedy. In 2002 for example a Kantar study revealed that ad spending on local, network and cable TV totalled $57.8 million on September 11th a whopping 54.6% cut from the average amount spent in the five weekdays prior to that date.

It got me to thinking what have advertisers done to mark the passing of September 11th? Over the last eleven years there have been a number ads centred around the theme of the attack, some good, others bad and some just downright ugly – 

The Good

One of the most revered advertisements comes from Budweiser who remade their 2002 Superbowl ad which featured the Clydesdales paying their respect to New York City. The new version is almost identical except when the horses kneel in respect one World Trade Centre can be seen under construction. Although not everyone liked the ad, it is certainly amongst the most tasteful I have come across. Add to that the fact that it was aired only once, to mark the tenth of the anniversary of the attacks I think Budweiser are one of the select few to get it right.

The Bad 

On the sixth anniversary of the attacks, the Khaleej Times, “the No. 1 English language daily paper published in Dubai, United Arab Emirates,” ran this full-page, anti-smoking advertisement as a matter of ‘public interest’ to remind us that smoking is much worse than 9/11.



The Ugly

According to Brazilian mattress company Ortobom Mattresses it’s your lousy mattress, not your memories of September 11th that are keeping you up at night. To me, this is amongst the most distasteful of the ads. 


Text reads: There is always something that takes away your sleep. Choose your mattress well. 

In my opinion I think companies should just let the moment pass, anything that companies do could be perceived as self-serving or disrespectful. Better to air on the side of caution. 



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