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Starfarm’s 9/11 commercial was shameless profiteering

As you can tell from the subject matter this post is getting finished a little later than I would have liked but my workload and travel schedule haven’t given me the freedom to write as much as I would like lately.

There have been very few advertisers who have chosen to use 9/11 as the basis of an ad campaign since it is such an emotional and branding minefield. The most famous and infamous ad to tread on this ground was the World Wildlife Fund Tsunami Twin Towers Ad  Campaign that compared the September 11th attacks to the 2005 Tsunami that sent WWF and DDB scrambling away from bring linked it’s creation. With the tenth anniversary on the September 11th attacks we saw a few brands like Budweiser dust off old commercials and other brands like Statefarm create a new ones.  The Statefarm ad was created by Spike Lee and shows 150 schoolchildren from the New York City area visiting four firehouses and thanking firefighters with their own version of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song “Empire State of Mind.” closing on the new 9/11 memorial and the words “Never forgotten. Forever grateful.”

I saw a lot of posts from friends on Facebook gushing over how much they loved the Statefarm ad and how it brought them to tears but for me I had the complete opposite reaction. I thought the ad was cheap profiteering that had nothing to do with the Statefarm brand and used the easy emotional response they knew they could generate by trading on Spike Lee’s NYC credibility and pairing children, firefighters and the emotional gravity of the day. By comparison, even though it was created a few years ago, I didn’t think the Budweiser ad was nearly as bad because it was done in the framework of their ad campaigns and most importantly it came across to what it was suppose to be – a memorial. For me the Statefarm ad wasn’t anything close to a memorial but was instead a collection greeting card components put together as a cheap play on raw emotions for pure financial benefit .

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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