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The Media and Sept. 11

Ten years later, televised information about this day will have some limited backing from advertisers.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jenn Cefalu September 10, 2011 at 04:33 AM
I really hope that the ads on Sunday will have the reflective and somber tone that you're discussing here. It will be interesting to see the advertisements that run during NFL games, since you usually don't think about reflection when you think about beer advertisements. But as Super Bowl XXXVI (the first Super Bowl after 9/11) showed, it IS possible to have a tasteful advertisement that considers the emotions of the audience. YouTube the 9/11 Budweiser tribute if you haven't seen it/don't remember it. There are so many tributes planned, and NFL Commissioner Goodell has promised that the NFL games will honor the day. It would be a huge shame if all these plans were tainted by the media putting their advertising revenue ahead of what is right.
Lauren B. Lev September 12, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Jenn -- having the opportunity to write this post with the hindsight of seeing some of the televised NFL games and commercials -- I concur with you that I hoped the tributes were pretty respectable and many were. Advertisers I saw during the midday hours -- including Verizon, State Farm and Budweiser (I think they reprised the 2002 ad with Tower One in the distance if I wasn't mistaken) were quite reflective and hopeful and uplifting.

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