shy away from TV networks' 9/11 shows
Tue Jul 30, 7:55 PM ET
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For America's television
viewers, it will be a day of remembrance -- with
little or no commercial interruption.
As the major networks plan extensive, daylong
coverage of the first anniversary of the Sept. 11
attacks, advertisers are expected to keep a low
profile that day to avoid being seen as cashing in
on the tragedy.
Advertiser reluctance to hawk sodas, cars and
shampoo in conjunction with images of last year's
suicide hijackings is forcing broadcasters to seek
"brought-to-you-by" sponsorship or other
low-key ways of underwriting their 9/11-related
programs, officials at network and media agencies
"There are a large number of clients who are
electing not to underwrite what the networks are
planning to do," one source at a large New
York-based media buying company told Reuters.
Some major advertisers have decided to sit out
Sept. 11 altogether.
"We just felt that this year, it would be
appropriate not to advertise on that day, just out
of respect for what happened," said Dave
DeCecco, a spokesman for Pepsi-Cola North America,
the soft-drink company owned by PepsiCo Inc.
Likewise, Dell Computer Corp.has chosen to pull
its consumer ads from networks that broadcast news
programs related to Sept. 11, the Wall Street
PUBLIC SERVICE-STYLE MESSAGES
Others will opt for public service-style messages
that pay tribute to the victims and heroes of
9/11, much the way Nextel Communications sponsored
a highly rated CBS documentary about the World
Trade Center attacks that aired in March. CBS, a
unit of Viacom Inc. plans to repeat that special
on Sept. 8.
"It's fair to say that all the networks are
selling sponsorships, rather than traditional
30-second spots," one executive at a major
"I'm not surprised about advertisers who are
skittish about it, and they should be," said
Stacey Lynn Koerner, director of broadcast
research for Interpublic Group -owned Initiative
Media, whose clients include Nextel, Home Depot
Victoria's Secret and Bank of America
"The danger is it will be seen as taking
advantage of what's likely to be highly viewed
programming for blatant capitalistic gain,"
The major networks -- NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox --
aired four straight days of commercial-free,
round-the-clock news after hijackers slammed
jetliners into the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon ( news - web sites) and a Pennsylvania
field in attacks that left about 3,000 people dead
Coverage of the devastation in New York, where the
Trade Center was reduced to rubble on live
television, riveted the nation and world.
NETWORKS RETURN TO GROUND ZERO
For the first anniversary of the attacks, CBS,
General Electric Co.'s NBC, and ABC, a unit of
Walt Disney Co. all plan to devote much of day to
special programming commemorating the disaster.
CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley has landed
interviews with President George W. Bush ( news -
web sites) and top White House officials
recounting the events of 9/11 that will air as
part of a three-hour prime-time block produced by
"60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes
II." The interviews with Bush will be
conducted aboard Air Force One and in the Oval
Meanwhile, NBC's prime-time lineup that night will
feature a two-hour "Concert for America"
tribute hosted by Tom Brokaw and produced in
collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts. First lady Laura Bush plans
to attend that event, which tapes in Washington on
Sept. 9. The president reportedly may appear as
ABC, meanwhile, has slated a prime-time look back
at Sept. 11, including a documentary
reconstruction of the attacks and the government's
reaction to them.
The Fox network, a unit of News Corp. Ltd., is
planning a two-hour prime-time special, "The
Day America Changed," hosted by Brit Hume.