While it seemed almost inconceivable then, even in the face of heartbreak, life-and the marketing business-went on. Who among us, in the weeks following Sept. 11, would have thought that we'd be turning on TVs five years later and finding humorous spots for Southwest Airlines or business-themed commercials from United?
But advertisers kept advertising, with General Motors and Procter & Gamble, as usual, duking it out for the top-spending slot over the last few years. Products were launched, careers born and ended. A digital revolution is underway; technology is reinventing the business.
For better or worse, our culture marches on. On Sept. 4, both Fox and CNN gave over the bulk of their time to the death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. The following day, the big news was the news itself: the dawn of the Katie Couric age. But even Ms. Couric was eclipsed by the first photos of Suri Cruise.
Some would find fault with what they claim to be a Sept. 10 mind-set. In the midst of a war, American media keep producing distractions such as "American Idol," American businesses keep pumping in millions of sponsorship dollars and American consumers keep watching.
In this we see an encouraging resilience. Five years after one of the most traumatic events in American history, this country's marketers aren't facing ruin as fearful, beaten-down consumers cling to their wallets. Instead, they're dealing with a more mundane challenge: creating products and persuading consumers to buy them.
And for that, we should all be thankful.