Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

September 11th

Running advertisements successfully on a very sensitive anniversary
September 11th
Attempts have been made in the past, some good and some bad, when running ads during the anniversaries of 9/11. We hope to change that by providing tips to show how this daunting task can be accomplished successfully.

As the 10-year anniversary approaches of one of the most tragic days in our country’s history, many advertisers are found in a tough position. The decision to run ads while on a 9/11 anniversary, especially one as significant as the 10th anniversary, is difficult; forcing advertisers to think of new strategies and designs. They need to find a balance, striking a perfect middle, to ensure that their ad shows sensitivity and remembrance, steering far away from signs of exploitation. Attempts have been made in the past, some good and some bad, when running ads during the anniversaries of 9/11. We hope to change that by providing tips to show how this daunting task can be accomplished successfully.

Things to Consider Before Creating Your Ad:

Taking on such a sensitive subject requires an extra focus and reminder of who exactly your audiences are and what your main motives are for creating an ad. To do this, ask yourself these few questions:

  • What is your proximity to the site?

For most people living in the New York City area around the time of this disaster, this day potentially holds much more meaning, in comparison to people on the west coast, calling for a higher-than-normal level of sensitivity.

  • In thinking about proximity, how affected was your town by  9/11?

    What may appear as just another question about proximity, this question is actually quite different and important to  consider. Although this day affected our entire country and various parts of the world, some people and towns were affected more, losing multiple loved ones and hundreds of individuals. Like that of proximity, by asking yourself this question, you will be able to distinguish the right level of sensitivity and how exactly your ad should be focused, whether through subtle acknowledgement or stronger recognition.  

Like that of proximity, by asking yourself this question, you will be able to distinguish the right level of sensitivity and how exactly your ad should be focused, whether through subtle acknowledgement or stronger recognition.  

  • What stance has your newspaper taken in the past?

     Has your newspaper always, in some shape or form, acknowledged the happening of 9/11, or has   it felt it best to avoid any such topic? This question can be crucial when deciding the type of advertisement to run, for depending on the paper, the decision may not be up to you.

Staying Away from Exploitative Ads:

This should go without saying, but since it has been seen and done, it is in need of discussion. Exploitation of September 11th, more than any other day, is a big NO NO. In handling such a sensitive topic and anniversary, it is important that any ad being run is done in a tasteful manner and with the utmost respect. However, this hasn’t always been the case, as it has seen before in some ads with the use of inappropriate imagery taken from the scene of 9/11 and the use of images of the World Trade Center. The use of exploitative ads not only holds major consequences for your ad but also for the organization being represented. It is best to steer clear of any such imagery and play it safe.

The use of exploitative ads not only holds major consequences for your ad but also for the organization being represented. It is best to steer clear of any such imagery and play it safe.

Ways Your Ads Can Be Successful:

So after asking yourself questions to consider and understanding how NOT to advertise during 9/11, you may still be wondering how exactly to create a successful advertisement. Here are a couple of ideas for advertisers to use:

    • Play it safe by running a simple patriotic-themed advertisement. This type of ad is subtle enough without being overwhelming, showing acknowledgement and remembrance, but, most importantly, showing country pride. 

   •Run ads that offer discounts to men and women in either the military or in public and emergency services.  An ad like this shows an acknowledgment to these men and women’s bravery and sacrifice, while at the same time, honoring the men and women who lost their lives 10 years ago.

   • Run a company-sponsored ad that avoids the mention of sales but rather reads of a heart felt message about remembrance. However, just remember that sometimes messages like these can sometime look as being exploitative.