September 11 is supposed to be a somber day of remembrance for the victims, the heroes, and the families that were impacted by the tragedy — not an opportunity to sell something.
But, a number of companies have chosen to exploit the 9/11 attacks in ads selling everything from newspapers to PSAs to arthritis medications. There’s even one for mattresses.
This slideshow is a collection of ads using 9/11 as a central theme, no matter how inappropriate. (Some of them have been around for a while — CBS did this gallery in 2011.)
With a touch more respect for the tragedy, TAXI's ad for the new mini played on the theme of newness, saying 'Let there be xenon. New. Still mini,' which ran below an image of two headlight beams intended to represent the beams from Ground Zero.
'Terrorism-related deaths since 2001: 11,377. Tobacco-related deaths since 2001: 30,000,000.'
This startling tagline ran alongside an image of two burning cigarettes fashioned to resemble the Twin Towers. DDB New Zealand created this ad for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and ran the ad in 2008. There is debate over whether or not the ad was even intended for distribution, but either way it made its way from New Zealand to ASH's U.S. website, sparking extensive controversy.
CoBis is an IT company based out of Brussels that ran this ad, by LG&F, which imagines a computer mother board like Lower Manhattan, and warns, 'Some day your computer might become a target.'
Hardly subtle, this image of two planes flying over a much shorter set of World Trade Towers was the centrepiece of an ad for the French newspaper, The Courrier International. Intended to promote the paper's reporting skills, the ad's tagline read, 'Learn to Anticipate,' suggesting that if the architects had known to shorten the towers, the terrorist planes would have flown right over them. Saatchi & Saatchi, France designed the ad in 2010.
Here is yet another ad comparing natural disasters to terrorism. FDDP and Fils designed this ad for Solidartes, an international humanitarian aid organisation. According to the ad, the sinking of the Titanic + the attack on the World Trade centre is still less tragic than the lack of drinking water in the world. The ad explains, 'Non-drinking water kills 8 millions persons a year.'
Here, in an ad for the WWF in Brazil, created by DDB Brazil in 2009, viewers are told that 'The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it.' In the commercial below, a replay of the attack on the towers is featured (and surprisingly no images from the tsunami are shown).
Giovanni and Draft FCB Brazil created this simple yet inappropriate piece of creative for the Brazilian mattress retailer, Ortobom. A stark image of a calendar for the month of September highlighting only the 11th in red, reads: 'There is always something that takes away your sleep. Choose your mattress well.'
The Spanish newspaper, El Pais, ran this tricky ad in 2008 created by Ogilvy & Mather. Priding themselves in their ability to report accurate and timely information, the two-page spread explained:
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 he first attack on the World Trade centre was on the North Tower, that the impact wasn't in the middle floors but in the upper ones, and that the 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 worst than not being informed and that is believing you are.
The ad brings into question the accuracy of the information people around the world received during the attacks.
In 2007, Lowe and Bull created this ad for South African newspaper Cape Times, which again plays on the theme of being the first to know about world changing events. 'Monday, 10 September 2001. The world can change in a day. Don't miss your daily edition of in-depth news. Cape Times. Know All About It.'
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