US faces 9/11 ad black hole
US media companies are bracing themselves for huge losses of tens of millions of pounds as advertisers shun the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Media experts estimate as much as £35m in advertising revenue could be lost after the owners of some of the US’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Miller beer and Vauxhall, said they would stay off the airwaves out of respect for the victims of the attacks.
United Airlines and American Airlines, the two companies that owned the four hijacked jets, have also pulled all their ads for the period, with American planning a two-week advertising black-out.
And there are concerns many more will stay away for fear of being accused of cashing in on the attacks, with broadcasters likely to be the worst hit.
Although experts are predicting record viewing levels for documentaries and retrospective news programmes about the attacks, many advertisers are concerned about a backlash if they associate their products with such programmes.
A recent survey by the US magazine Advertising Age found more than half of all US consumers did not want to see ads on TV on September 11, with nearly 40% saying they would take a negative view of any company that did advertise.
“The first anniversary of September 11 is not a good day to sell hamburgers,” Rich Hamilton, chief executive of Zenith Optimedia Group Americas, told the magazine.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox network has already said it will not accept any advertising for September 11, while rival networks ABC and NBC are still deciding whether to take ads and sponsorship.
But Ford has said it will advertise in normal entertainment and sports programming on the day, although the company’s ads will not appear in any attack-related programmes.
Corporate America has been struggling to find the right tone when it comes to September 11.
While some companies are adopting a subdued tone, determined to steer clear of anything that might offend, others say they plan to carry on as normal in an effort to prove to the world that the US has moved on.
The dilemma is particularly acute for the airlines, which have faced a severe decline in demand for the day.
While most have responded by cutting back their flights, one – Spirit Airlines – has given away all its seats for that day free of charge.
The seats sold out within hours and the airline announced: “The sky should be full of Americans on September 11. This will show that we’re not a nation than can easily be brought down.” Autor: Claire Cozens