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A Helping Hand

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Along with the hundreds of sympathy ads that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, stories emerged from across the country of other kinds of support from the marketing community for the victims and their families.

Within days of the attacks, Cisco donated $500,000 to the YMCA of Greater New York to promote tolerance. The YMCA quickly asked The Seiden Group in New York to develop a PSA in English and Spanish. Chief creative officer Steve Feinberg hurriedly wrote the scripts; director Leslie Dektor and actor Esai Morales (NYPD Blue) were hired; and the spots were finished in a week and a half.

"I felt it was something that needed to be said," says Dektor. "The writing was strong. [Morales'] reading was very much from the heart."

Adds Karen Crowe, vp of communications for the YMCA of Greater New York: "It's such a beautiful product. Now it's just a matter of getting people to play [the ads]."

Nortel Networks donated the rest of its TV adver tising time for 2001 ($3.5 million worth) to the American Red Cross, much of it on prime-time shows such as Nightline, 60 Minutes and Dateline.

"They said they needed three things: blood, financial assistance and a way of getting the message out," says Nortel's David Chamberlin. "We thought this would be the best way for us to help, and we hope other big companies do it, too."

The famous "I love New York" campaign from the New York State Department of Economic Development will make a grand return Oct. 8 by showing that people are getting on with their lives in New York City.

"We went out and walked around and saw some pretty amazing stuff," says Mike Rogers, president of The Wolf Group in New York, which shot the 60-second ad. "If we're successful, we'll really communicate the fabric of the city and the unquenchable spirit of New Yorkers."

By noon on Sept. 11, Adapt Media had replaced the ESPN and Time Warner Cable messages on its digital taxi-tops in Manhattan with emergency numbers and information.

"I'm Israeli, so I've unfor tunately experienced this kind of thing in my life, although not on such a horrible order of magnitude," says Adapt CEO Eyal Cohen. "In a situation like this, you focus everything on your capabilities to help. All I had was this company I own."

Adapt's displays—there are 50 of them now on the road in Manhattan—use GPS technology, which allowed Adapt to flash phone numbers for mental-health facilities in particular areas and also warn drivers of tunnel closings.

One newspaper ad that received special attention was BBDO's for the New York Stock Exchange, created to mark Wall Street's reopening after a historic four days off.

The ad began, "At 9:30 this morning, a bell will be rung on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And trading will resume as it has for 209 years. Today, that bell means more to us than just business." At a Senate hearing later that week involving Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and NYSE CEO Richard Grasso, portions of the ad's copy were read into the congressional record.

Autowraps, king of swaddling cars in marketing, organized a program to give out free flag decals to car owners (www.autowraps.com/freeflags). The company is using PT Cruisers wrapped in the Stars and Stripes to distribute them.

Says CEO Dan Shifrin: "Our goal is to decorate as many vehicles with the flag as possible so we may have a constant reminder to ourselves and anyone who opposes us that we are a united people."

On a smaller scale, people at agencies across the country put their particular talents to work. As just one example, Leslie Elizondo of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Detroit sold some 500 handmade patriotic pins. D'Arcy matched the proceeds, and a total of $6,400 was sent to the Red Cross.