When the tragedy of 9/11 was unfolding, television coverage was unprecedented. If it wasn’t enough to be one of the locations that experienced that awful day, it was reported, reviewed and broadcasted for many hours across the country.
As a parent, I remember keeping my elementary school children away from the telecasts – three weeks of Nickelodeon or other children’s programming and no channel surfing. None.
I also remember my husband, returning from the city on that fateful day and feeling so news-starved, so in need of understanding, that he took an hour of refuge to see coverage on CNN.
As a marketer, I remember not only the lack of ads, but the tone of them in the subsequent days: solemn, patriotic, a united nation aiming to get America back on its feet.
And although this is not to diminish the seriousness of the day, it is uncomfortably true that the ad-free TV programming resulted in broadcast and cable-TV networks losing a combined $313.2 million in ad revenue. According to Advertising Age, covering this story on September 11, 2001 alone resulted in media losses of approximately $84.6 million.
This year, there is a change in the marketing/media landscape to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11.
When you watch network TV or cable television programming leading up to and including September 11, 2011, the specials, documentaries and even live news coverage of the anniversary will have advertising.
Some advertisers will sponsor whole programs, other coverage will have limited commercial interruptions and as one would expect, there will be some commercial-free moments as well. If handled correctly, these ads will have a reflective, somber tone – most likely promoting companies and their ideals vs. individual “buy me” products. There will also be telecasts of the first four NFL Sunday games for the 2011 season – with commercials too.
It will be a very different media landscape than the day of and days immediately following this tragic event –advertising hopefully respectful of the American landscape that came after that day too.