After months of planning and competition among ad agencies, TV spots for Campaign for Freedom set to break tonight are expected to get heavy play this week. The commercials carry a "freedom, appreciate it, cherish it, protect it" tagline developed by one of the agencies producing the spots, DeVito/Verdi, New York.
One spot from DeVito/Verdi suggests "terrorists tried to change America forever," and pictures a row of houses in Bayonne, N.J. Then a voice-over says "They succeeded," and the ad switches to a picture of the houses decked out with American flags.
Range of freedoms
Other spots were produced from agencies including Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, New York; Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, and print from Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day. Some suggest what America would be like without freedom. Others dramatize the innovation and range of choices American freedom brings, using as examples public schools, the oratory of Martin Luther King, medical care and a vast selection of grocery choices.
The Ad Council intends for the spots, which so far have cost $700,000 to produce and distribute, to revive the feelings of unity and strength that immediately followed the Sept. 11 attacks.
4th of July
"It has been nine months and people have
The only entity listed in the ads as a sponsor is the Ad Council, which is trying to raise money from the ad industry to support the production and distribution, rather than relying on non-profit partners.
Phil Dusenberry, Omnicom's BBDO North America retired chairman, heads the Campaign for Freedom creative effort and once helped produce patriotic ads for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns.
"Right after 9/11 there was a terrific upsurge in patriotism but it kind of waned as other things came into play like the economy. We wanted to kick-start those positive feelings about freedom all over again. It's a true blessing," he said.
Mr. Dusenberry said people in other places want to take Americans' freedom away and the campaign is an effort to show that freedom can't be taken for granted. "The objective is to get people to ratchet up their sense of freedom," he said, adding that unlike most advertising that is intended to get people to do something, the main intent of this campaign is to get people to "feel proud."
Michael Sennott, a consultant at Interpublic, directs the strategic response for the Freedom Campaign. The Ad Council hopes the spots will air frequently and run for several years and already has commitments from a number of networks and cable companies to air the spots. It is also going to ready radio and at least two more flights of TV spots from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and from Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide.
Could court controversy
While the spots were drawn up months ago to demonstrate American freedoms and weren't intended to be controversial, several could become so.
One spot from DeVito/Verdi pictures a minister finishing his service warning his congregation to be careful as they covertly leave a hidden basement meeting place and ends with "What if America wasn't America?" The ad is appearing a month after FBI guidelines allowing agents to monitor religious meetings drew criticism, including charges from U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., that the guidelines "threaten the private practice of religion and constitute a war on freedom, not a war on terror," a charge a top Justice Department official denied.
Another spot from DeVito/Verdi about a person in a library being targeted for looking for a banned book and one from DDB Needham about a man being arrested for having a banned newspaper could also draw attention to the FBI guidelines.