DDB, WWF Reeling From Fallout Over 9/11 Ad

UPDATE, Friday. In their joint apology for this now-infamous 9/11 ad, DDB Brazil and WWF Brazil mentioned their previous collaborations. Here's a sampling of ads they've done together since 2007.

UPDATE, Thursday evening. So, it appears the video version of the print ad was the work of DDB Brazil as well, and was entered into the Cannes festival this year. Meanwhile, over at Adweek.com, Barbara Lippert offers her view of the whole fiasco.

UPDATE, Thursday, 1 p.m. ET. The U.S. headquarters of the WWF has just updated its statement to acknowledge that someone at WWF Brazil may have indeed signed off on the 9/11 ad. See the full statement here.

UPDATE, Wednesday evening: DDB Brazil posted a statement on its Web site Wednesday, signed by both WWF Brazil and DDB Brazil, claiming shared responsibility for the creation and initial approval of this ad, which has caused a firestorm of controversy since Tuesday morning.

  The English version of the statement reads: "WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil would like to jointly express their regret for the unfortunate incident involving the 'Tsunami' ad for World Wildlife Fund Brasil. The ad does not convey either the philosophy of the client or that of its advertising agency. It was created and approved in late 2008, mistakenly, and was solely the result of lack of experience on the part of a few professionals from both parties involved. In no way was it done in bad faith or with disrespect to American suffering. WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil acknowledge that such an ad never should have been made, approved or published. We reiterate our apologies to all those who may have been offended by it. The two entities have worked together for three years to mobilize people, efforts and resources for the good of the environment. A single error should not obscure past successes, nor prevent future ones."

  Below is our original blog post from Tuesday morning, plus several updates made since then.

— — — — —

Just in time for the anniversary of 9/11 comes this tasteless, nightmarish print ad for the World Wildlife Fund, showing dozens of planes headed for lower Manhattan. See a larger version here. The copy reads: "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it." Unfortunately, respect is the main thing lacking here. Exploiting one tragedy to try to prevent another is just stupid and self-defeating, and will always backfire. Via Advertolog, which credits the ad to DDB Brazil.

UPDATE: It appears this ad actually managed to win a merit award for public service at The One Show this year. We spoke to a rep at the U.S. HQ of the WWF in Washington. She said the group "strongly condemns the messaging and the imagery" of the ad, and she added: "We can promise you this ad does not reflect the thoughts and feelings of this organization." WWF further says the ad was "never authorized or approved by any WWF person on the planet" and that the group is investigating the "unauthorized and illegal use of our logo." The group's official statement on the matter can be seen here.

UPDATE: DDB Brazil has apologized for the ad, and a rep there tells the New York Daily News that the creative team behind it "is no longer with the agency."

UPDATE: We've received an e-mailed statement from DDB Brazil in which the agency, while still apologizing for the ad's creation, claims it was approved for publication by the local branch of the WWF. The statement reads: "The 'Tsunami' ad for World Wildlife Fund Brasil was created by a team at DDB Brasil in December 2008, approved and ran. The team in question is no longer with the Agency. DDB Brasil apologizes to anyone who was offended or affected by the ad. It should never have been made and it does not portray the philosophy of the agency."

Recommended articles