Monday, September 17, 2007

Ashes to Ashes...

(click image to read copy)
Last Tuesday on the anniversary of 9/11, The Khaleej Times, "the No. 1 English language daily paper published in Dubai, United Arab Emirates," ran this full-page, anti-smoking ad. Damn, missed my deadline! I could've added it to the Gawker 9/11 post.
Very interesting—and maybe insensitive!—that a paper from an Arab country would exploit the burning twin towers.
I guess those smoking ex-buildings are full-on fair game now—so what else can they help sell? Maybe Alternative Energy (take that UAE)! Ideas?
(image source. thanks to Bill Green at MTLB for the Bacon Wristband—winning tip! only three left!)


Blogger Peter Feld said...

Here's my idea: two vodka bottles, towering into the sky and morphing into boxy towers with familiar vertical slats, both sending smoke and into the air, one with a fresh burst of flame.

Caption: Absolut Disaster

4:07 PM  
Blogger Moda di Magno said...

OMG, I'm sick to my stomach.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Greg Chiasson said...

No, it should just be the two bottles, with a Martini glass flying into one of them.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ad it works, the subtext seems to be (to me):

* how much money and effort has been spent on stopping another 9/11?
* how much has been spent in preventing another 5.4 million deaths?

The contrast in numbers is what's memorable.

3:59 AM  
Blogger SchizoFishNChimps said...

This needs an arty response. Does anyone know any Danish cartoonists?

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tad insensitive perhaps...

And here's a question - how many of the world's largest tobacco companies are American?

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Copyranter,

I agree with you, perhaps people affected with the 9/11 tragedy might feel hurt by an image that reminds them of it.

However, I do not think the ad is intended to hurt people's sentiments or 'exploit' an image for selling something.

As the copy explains, it is a grim reminder of death caused by smoking. In a subtle way, it points out that every unnecessary death is a cause for concern - whether it gets newsprint and prime time or not.

Also, the ad has not been conceptualised by Arabs, as you can see by the credits. Neither is the paper an Arabic one.

So, it isn't really 'Arabs exploiting 9/11' although such a take would make the ad more sensational than it really is, and maybe win a wrist-band too.

7:40 AM  
Blogger copyranter said...

I didn't say it was an Arab paper, did I? I said it was "a paper from an Arab country."

Don't put words in my mouth, and learn how to read.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point I am making is that the ad and the cause it represents is a global and humanitarian one, Copyranter - 'Arab country' references are unnecessary.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's in poor taste, yes. But I also think that the sheer numbers of other preventable tragedies (smoking-relayed deaths, child mortality in African countries, AIDS, etc. etc.) get consistently ignored while 9/11 takes the spotlight. It says a lot about our priorities.

9:51 AM  
Blogger New York Punk said...

This ad was created so some hack can win an award. I don't for a second believe the client actually asked for a no-smoking campaign. Nor does anyone really care about fucking smokers dying in a part of the world where women neither vote nor drive.

11:19 AM  
Blogger copyranter said...

the client here is actually the newspaper where the ad was placed.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Since I found it, here's why I hate it:

The use 'terrors of smoking' exploits the memory of the tragedy on behalf of an anti-smoking message, but imo, only serves to weaken both.

“I do not think the ad is intended to hurt people's sentiments or 'exploit' an image for selling something.”

The people senstive to it would actually be the entire country where it happened for one.

I can understand some countries removed from the events not being quite as touchy, that's one thing. But to run ads like this, as France has done as well as others, just shows a cultural cluelessness on their part.


Dude, there's no way that metaphor is lost on anyone reading the paper there. You'd think an ad agency of all things would be more in tune with world events and what's cool to run and what's not.

Also, the “any attentions is good attention” insuation implied by a few here is bullshit. The Muslim community was up in arms for newspapers running cartoons making fun of their prophet. Would we do that here in a mainsream paper? Would we run full-page ads in the New York Times with Nazis giving the salute?

And nobody is saying that 9/11 is MORE important than the major issues of the day like AIDS–we're saying stop fucking exploiting it to prove a point about the other casues.

Funny, I’ve never seen anyone use AIDS imagery to leverage concern for the anti-smoking movement. Why is that?

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put, MTLB.

I would also add that both issues used in the ad were global and humanitarian, rather than just one, as one of the previous posts suggests.

It's too bad that this is what someone considers "edgy." Trying too hard to be provocative is obvious to the average reader, which is another reason this is a crappy ad.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i just think it lacks creativity

it's way too easy to milk 9/11
and cheap shots
are weak

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, kudos to the writer.....sparked another controversy....!!!honestly i wont be surprised if the writer now wins an award for this..

7:18 AM  
Blogger Sudeep Koshy said...

Interpretation is the most dynamic part of a communication. However, the intention and message of this ad is right up there, unmistakable, in cold fact and bare figures. Yet I think getting the context right would perhaps get the perspective clearer as well.

The ad was released on 9/11 of course. And that was THREE days before UAE banned smoking in public places.

9/11 needs no reminder. And it is that painful memory which renews itself every year on the same day (and for some, every single day), that has been banked on to remind the world of another colossal disaster that often escape our attention, amidst its silent every day onslaught.

As one post clarifies, it’s indeed the monumental (and universal) nature of the tragedy of smoking being highlighted by the sheer contrast in those numbers.

As you will appreciate, the ad doesn’t resort to flippant, even demeaning, headlines (like ‘smoke out the terror!’) and instead features the cold fact, upfront.

(In response to one posting) This is in fact a part of the world where people do care for those wretched beings - smokers – dying around us. UAE has largely banned smoking. And by the way, it also happens to be a place where women drive Audi Q7s, Touaregs and Porsche Cayennes☺

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That's 2000 times a 9-11"

A 9-11? Does that mean there's more coming?

10:10 AM  

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