Should Agencies Post About 9/11?

Hi, readers: I’m writing in the midst of what is looking to be a very slow day on the pitching front for both PR and ad agencies. This is a good thing.

Why? Because, despite the fact that we all have work to do, most comms people have wisely realized that today is not necessarily the best one on which to promote consumer brands when a majority of news stories concern the terrible thing that happened thirteen years ago.

Here’s a bit of sage advice from some guy who co-founded a blog:

He’s totally right. Thankfully, I’ve seen few brazen promos linked to the anniversary.

I have seen some agencies sending related messages, though, and without naming them I’d like to ask an earnest question: is that appropriate?

Certain parties are expected to recognize today’s anniversary:

  • Public servants like politicians and police/fire departments
  • Related public entities
  • New York City/Washington D.C. institutions

“Brands”, on the other hand, are best advised to STAY AWAY. We’ve been over this before, and Jason Sparks of Enroll America is doing his thing by sharing some tweets, like these two, which will inevitably end up in the listicle I will not write. (Here’s one from Adweek if you really want to go there.)

Back to the agency question, though: I appreciate the need for shared remembrance, and as someone who was in the city on that day I also understand the value of “this is how I experienced it” sentiments. Everyone does have a story, and everyone’s story is valid in the sense that it is unique.

But agencies aren’t people. That’s not to say that the feelings they share aren’t earnest or that they’re somehow “exploiting” what others went through for promotional purposes.

Still, I have to echo Jason’s tweets: unless the responsible party was in some way directly connected to the event, it’s better to read the many great stories written and slow things down a bit than to tell your 12,000 Twitter followers that you’ll #NeverForget.

No one will.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.