Marketing on 9/11

Much ado about nothing…


In our business, there was an immediate outcry about advertising using iconic 9/11 images in spots that ran on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

I read blistering comments using words like “shameful” and “despicable” from Chief Marketing Officers about all the 9/11-themed ads that ran last Sunday. You can see for yourself here.

The 3 that attracted the most attention, and the most comments were Verizon, State Farm, and Budweiser. Here they are, to refresh your memory or if you don’t watch NFL football:

That’s Verizon’s “Tribute & Gratitude”

State Farm with kids singing Empire State of Mind to firemen.

Here’s the thing, though: we viewers, we “consumers” not only didn’t mind these spots, we liked them more than the companies’ normal ads.

And the 9/11 Tribute ad we loved most wasn’t a surprise. I have used it more than once as an example of striking the perfect emotional note.

Remember this ad ran only once, on the day of the Super Bowl in 2002, the first Super Bowl following the attacks on 9/11.

Budweiser’s “Tribute/Never Forget” spot not only was the highest-testing spot with consumers,* it tested as the “Most Effective” spot of the quarter, 200 points higher than any of their other commercials.

Couple of points…

1. What are your thoughts about companies linking ads to our memories of 9/11?

2. Why do you think there’s such a huge disconnect between CMOs, who criticized each of these ads as “crass” and worse, and the general public, who saw them as fitting, moving and proper?

3. Had you noticed that there is no ad copy in any of these 3 top-testing spots? Strongly emotional already, their creators realized spoken words would only detract.

4 Which one is your favorite?


*Consumers Give High Scores to 9/11 Ads