- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Advertising is becoming a bit more sensitive for now at least.
An industry known for its brassy attitude, tongue-in-cheek humor and bold moves is toning itself down in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
"Most clients want to stay away from the issue," said Matt Smith, executive creative director at Arnold Worldwide in McLean. "No one wants to do anything in bad taste."
American flags are getting tacked on to television commercials and print ads. Advertisers are replacing jokes with themes full of patriotism, integrity and American values.
Some advertisers have even scrapped their original fall advertising campaigns or pulled funny ads that could be deemed inappropriate for an audience that may be still grieving.
But most local advertising executives agree that advertising won't change drastically in the long run. Despite lingering uncertainty about how long the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism will go on, and whether it will succeed, advertising executives remain optimistic.
"It will get back to normal," said Doug Laughlin, president of Laughlin, Marinaccio & Owens, an Arlington agency that handles advertising for Metro and the National Guard.
As Americans try to get on with their lives, businesses of all industries are doing the same. Advertisers are striving to strike a balance between aggressive, crafty campaigns while still capturing and respecting the collective mood of the nation.
Immediately after the attacks, advertisers across the board began pulling ads that featured the New York skyline, airplanes or even violence. Full-page ads from companies expressing sympathy replaced normal weekend sales ads.
The Ad Council, a nonprofit industry group, created public service ads featuring people of all ages, races and religions stating, "I am an American." Miller Brewing Co., Southwest Airlines and Lockheed Martin, to name a few, are running ads promoting integrity, hard work and the American way.
Consumers can expect a new wave of ads that reflect support for American troops now that U.S. military attacks have begun, said Mark Greenspun, creative director at Adworks, a Washington ad agency.
Traditionally, advertising has toned itself down after tragic events like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. In the past, airlines have even suspended their advertising at least a week after an airplane crash.
Choice Hotels International canceled its original fall advertising campaign that promoted its new triple-mile program with American Airlines and US Airways immediately after the attacks.
The program allowed guests to get triple miles toward airline tickets.
The Silver Spring hotel franchiser replaced it with a campaign, created by Arnold, that thanks people for traveling to help stimulate the travel industry one of the hardest hit after the attacks.
"It was the right thing to do," said Wayne W. Wielgus, the company's senior vice president of marketing.
Budget Rent a Car put its latest funny ads on hold to run new ads offering special discount rates to "help people get going again," said Mike Gavelek, vice president of marketing.
"We've been playing with humor but obviously at this time people don't want to laugh, so we changed the tone of our advertising," he said. "But we will go back."
The question for many ad agencies and their clients is: When will it be OK to laugh again?
"It's a question of appropriateness," Mr. Laughlin said.
There are signs that advertising is getting back to business as usual.
Some ad campaigns haven't changed at all. Mitsubishi has continued to run its ad campaign, the most recent ad featuring its Lancer model with people in the car singing "One week," an upbeat tune by the Barenaked Ladies.
IKEA, the home furnishings chain, decided to go ahead with its new campaign "after careful review and evaluation of the creative," said Gina Raiser, North American advertising manager.
The $40 million to $50 million advertising campaign, created before the attacks, focuses on how IKEA can help inspire people to reinvigorate their lives by mixing styles and making small changes.
"The campaign is not offensive or inappropriate and the situations are so far removed from the recent tragedy," Ms. Raiser said. "We think it's important to get back to a degree of normalcy."

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