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The 10 Worst Ad Exploitations Of 9/11.
Brands just kept proving, over and over, that the terrorists had definitely won.
It’s “Patriots” Day—CLAP YOU HANDS SAY YEAH! Where was I at 9am on the morning of September 11th, 2001? I was on the Hudson River waterfront and watched the 2nd plane slam into the South Tower. I almost vomited. I didn’t know what to do. I went into automatic mode and got on the train like I always did and headed to Soho to start my work day. I didn’t do any work.
For the next six months I had nightmares of planes crashing into every house/apartment I had ever lived in up to the point (true story). I even had a night where a plane crashed into my childhood German Shepherd Zorro’s dog house. (He wasn’t home at the time.) My smirking psychiatrist had a good time with my weekly crash updates.
OK, to the ads.
1. Equate Dental Floss (Guatemala)
COPY: Remove before the problem grows up. Equate is Walmart’s brand. In case you don't get the ad, the visual shows a young Osama bin Laden (according to the agency press note) throwing a plane at blocks meant to represent both plaque and the World Trade Center. The dental floss is grabbing the plane before the problem "grows up."From 2012. Ad agency: Avance WWP.
2. Courrier International (France)
Courrier is a Paris-based weekly newspaper. Here, they solved 9/11 after the fact: the World Trade Center architects should have stopped at about 50 floors. Look! The hijacked planes missed the shorter targets. Shit! Yay! Vive la Photoshop! From September, 2010. Ad agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, France.
3. El Pais (Spain)
Again, via Photoshop, another paper decided to exploit the deaths of 2,753 people to sell subscriptions. El Pais (The Country) is Spain’s largest newspaper. In this 2008 ad, they invited us to play: “What’s wrong with this 9/11 photo?” Copy:
You think you’re well-informed? Maybe not. If you read El Pais, you would have the information and deep analysis of the world’s scene and you would have noticed that the first attack on the World Trade Center was on the North Tower, that the impact wasn’t in the middle floors but in the upper ones, and that other tower was impacted by a commercial plane and not by a Hercules, and besides, the Transamerica Pyramid is in San Francisco and not in New York. Remember there’s something worse that not being informed and that is believing you are.
OK, yeah, I don’t think turning the WTC terrorist attack into a kid's game you might find on the back of a dive diner's paper placemat makes the newspaper look all that smart. From 2008. Ad agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Colombia. (I don’t why know a Colombian agency created the ad).
4. SABC Radio (South Africa)
Copy: THERE’S MORE TO SEE ON RADIO. Well, there is a shot of the towers in there, and also some medieval(?) illustrations, guy with an axe and other I have NO idea WTF is going on stuff. From 2008. Ad agency: DraftFCB, South Africa
5. Défi Pour La Terre (Challenge for the Earth)
(Sorry, only copy of ad I have). Copy: FOR NATURE, EVERYDAY (sic) IS 9/11. Ad via the French ecological organization, in association with the Nicolas Hulot Foundation. Adding a couple of falling people-leaves would have been a nice touch. From 2007. Ad agency: BBDO, Paris.
6. Ortobom Mattresses (Brazil)
OK, let’s go deep into the dregs. HEADLINE: There is always something that takes away your sleep. Choose your mattress well. The visual is the month of September with the 11th in red. Well, clean layout. From 2006. Ad agency: Giovanni+DraftFCB, Rio de Janeiro.
7. Jenburkt (India)
Headline: Everyone thinks that their joints are safe and strong. OSTEOARTHRITIS (on the plane) collapses them. Jenburkt is an Indian pharmaceutical company. this ad is for their Cartisafe-Forte supplements. Alternate headline: OSTEOARTHRITIS CAN BE TERROR-BLE. A plane slamming into your knees would smart a bit. Ad agency: unknown. Redditors argued whether or not the ad was real or fake. But I did a digital forensics test on it in 2011 that indicated it was real. Plus, It looks too complex to be fake.
8. CoBis (Belgium)
CoBis is a Brussels ICT company. Copy: SOME DAY YOUR COMPUTER MIGHT BECOME A TARGET. Turning a computer board into lower Manhattan is a pretty cool visual. But, yeah-nah. From 2006. Ad agency: LG&F.
9. (UAE & New Zealand)
L—”5.4 million die of smoking-related causes every year. That’s 2000 times a 9/11”. Via the Khaleej Times in Dubai. From 2007. Ad agency: Team Y&R, Dubai. R—Ad for ASH (Action on Smoking and Health). “Terrorism deaths since 2001: 11,337 • Tobacco-related deaths since 2001: 30,000,000”. From 2008. Ad agency: DDB, Auckland.
10. World Wildlife Fund (Brazil)
Copy: THE (2004) TSUNAMI KILLED 100 TIMES MORE PEOPLE THAN 9/11. Lastly, the most controversial post-9/11 9/11 ad. At the time (2009), the WWF tried to disown itself from the ad saying their ad agency, DDB Brazil, created it on their own. Ends up, they were lying and did in fact approve the ad. Here’s the video version.
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