You Tell Us: Is Sept. 11 Permanently Off Limits?

Few Marketers Dare Use Imagery, and Those Who Do Risk Wrath

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In the wake of the outcry surrounding DDB Brasil's Sept. 11-themed ad for the WWF, and with Sept. 11 approaching, it makes us wonder: Is Sept. 11 permanently off limits?

Or, to flip the question around: Is there any time when the imagery of the Twin Towers or Sept. 11, 2001, is appropriate for an ad, marketing effort or product launch?

As noted by Adland and others, the DDB Brasil spot was far from the first time the infamous day was used in advertising. And there have been times when the advertising, though held to be offensive and insensitive, bordered on appropriate for the marketer at hand.

Say what you will about the El Pais ad from 2004 or the second one in 2008, but they showed with stark clarity the value of up-to-date news and information in a rapidly changing world.

Relevant or not, brilliant creative or not, it doesn't seem that U.S. marketers would take the risk. And international marketers do so knowing full well that the global nature of the web can lead to a quick backlash.

What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments.

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