Databank Tragedy: Donation ads crisis-cross the Web

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The Web has played an unprecedented role in America's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with the American Red Cross receiving more than $44 million in online donations by the middle of last week.

"Whenever there's any type of disaster, our people work very quickly," said Red Cross spokeswoman Kelly Alexander. The group received more than 200 e-mails during the week following the tragedy requesting links to its site, so it established an online agreement process (www.redcross.org/psa/911/911.html), where other sites can access the information and the linkage agreement.

The site includes various-sized "911" banners and other ads with information for making financial contributions and donating blood. They also include the Red Cross motto, "Together, we can save a life." The general Red Cross site (www.redcross.org) also provides news from the New York, Washington and Pennsylvania locations and information on aid efforts taking place across the country.

Advertisers are participating in different ways, according to the Red Cross site. Television networks-including Viacom's CBS, MTV, VH-1 and UPN; General Electric Co.'s NBC; Discovery Channel; QVC; and the Rainbow Network-have begun airing public service announcements featuring Red Cross President-CEO Bernadine Healy. And their corresponding sites also are running the banners and buttons.

In addition, Americatel is producing Spanishlanguage advertisements, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation is creating ads encouraging donations, and companies such as Bank One, Coinstar, Food Lion/Kash `n' Karry, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Lee Jeans, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and others are running various American Red Cross promotions.

Sites such as AOL.com and Amazon.com have been running Red Cross buttons, while Yahoo! has a link for donations and MSN has also run Red Cross advertising.

But the online messages spread much farther and wider, as much of corporate America featured links, banners and pop-up windows on their sites asking for donations.

It was likely the biggest online ad effort ever.

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