November 15, 2006

Brand 9/11

Hate this… no, it’s clever… sick… effective… My Anglo-Saxon conditioning is behind my confused reaction to this ad by Leo Burnett Paris for France’s VSD news magazine.
Our sensitivity to exploitation of 9/11 can’t be as great as it is in the US, but even here any media discussion of the event is still treated with sensitivity and deference.
A fortnight ago, we were scoffing at complaints that Sony’s paint explosions were offensive – the new Bravia TV ad supposedly recollected the terrorist attacks. We’ve heard the same nonsense with anything that might depict dual monolithic structures (some people said this of the design of the Coke Zero cans).
VSD magazine uses unmistakable 9/11 imagery to sell itself. I was tempted to consider whether VSD were suggesting that the smouldering towers are now an icon, maybe even a New York brand, just like the Big Apple and the Statue of Liberty. That would make a good argument. However, the banality of the other two ads in the “Live the News” campaign (the other two ads show a lively football stadium, and a street riot) tells me that this isn’t the case.
Media groups in the UK - I recall campaigns by the BBC and Channel 4 in particular - have used images of Middle Eastern war to promote their programming (not trailers, but ads); the tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have been like experiencing the death of a thousand cuts - there’s no single clear image that sums up the horror of what is happening there.
Unlike 9/11.

Tags: Media; Press / outdoor ads; Politics; Violence


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Such a great ad. Wonder if they also plan a WWII anniversary edition depicting the countless French towns and cities being overrun.


SchizoFishNChimps said...

Oooh they wouldn't like that

RFB said...

It is now an iconic image, the searing flash on a public's collective consciousness, much like the Hindenburg, though much deadlier. Tragedy sells, and Zeppelin used the Hindenburg disaster on one of their album covers - and it sold well!

Either that or it's just the French saying, "Ha ha. Now you know what it's like."

copyranter said...

It's funny (OK, not HaHa funny) but's the exact moment I witnessed with me own eyes (the second plane hitting) on 9/11. For 6 months every dream I had had a plane crashing into something (fun!). Still, I think folk are waaay to sensitive about the day.

SchizoFishNChimps said...

Blimey, copyranter, I'm sorry you had to see that. My wife still has occasional nightmares about it, and that's purely from seeing it on TV.
I think it's only right that the subject be talked about, but using it to sell a news mag is crass.