The American public is sending conflicting signals as to whether any form of advertising will be acceptable on September 11, the first anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks.

Just over a week ago, an AdAge survey indicated that a narrow majority (51%) of US adults would prefer not to see any ads on September 11 [WAMN: 07-Aug-02]. However, another study, published Wednesday by Interpublic online reserach unit InsightExpress found 73% of respondents would be ‘comfortable’ with routine advertising that day.

It will, however, behove advertisers to act with caution and sensitivity. Twenty-seven percent of respondents would regard everyday ads as ‘exploitative’; while a larger segment (62%) felt commemorative ads to be more ‘appropriate’. Patriotic symbols such as the US flag were also seen as acceptable (73%), as were images of firefighters and police (61%).

Only 38% felt it ‘appropriate’ for ads to feature the World Trade Center; with far fewer (20%) believing images of victims would be acceptable. Fewer still (17%) would approve of ads featuring victims’ families.

The InsightExpress study is based on 450 self-selecting online respondents compared with AdAge’s 367. The former’s methodology invites individuals identified from tens of thousands of websites to participate in surveys, creating it claims, “the industry's most stable and representative online sample”.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff