The news release spoke boldly: "In view of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this is the time for Corporate America and all government agencies to enhance the safety and security of the nation's high profile buildings."
Not exactly a revelation. It didn't take another sentence to underline the company's intent.
"Windows and doors are normally the weakest static construction elements in a building," continued the release, "and are therefore the first to fail during violent activities and brute forces of nature. . . . Your property needs protection!"
The next few hundred words explained how my readers could choose a security level-and color-of windows to provide that security-"from burglarproof to hurricane resistant and ultimately bullet and blast resistant."
Thousands of businesses, like the window company, obtrusively used the tragedy to sell their product.
One investment company told me that if I followed world events, "you probably know that the prices of commodities and stocks reflect international politics and tensions!"
It explained that as the "U.S. prepares its response, tensions could escalate even further in the Middle East. This could have a DRAMATIC IMPACT on the supply of oil and gas therefore increasing worldwide prices. If this happens, oil and gas companies and THEIR SHAREHOLDERS could be poised to MAKE MONEY from any price increases."
To make money from the tragedy, I just had to contact this company to learn which "undervalued" stocks I should buy.
A writer offered newspaper editors about 400 words detailing Osama bin Laden's aura, hoping to lure them into buying her weekly column, "Ask Your Aura," identified as "the personal pull of an advice column, the celebrity appeal of a gossip column, the mystery of astrology." Not surprisingly, she determined that not only is "love, compassion, and spiritual joy [in bin Laden's] heart chakra ... about as big as a donut hole," but that this spirituality is "connected to a preference for evil."
Most corporate America had pulled all advertising from the TV networks and national news magazines for up to a week following the tragedy while they re-evaluated their campaigns. When they returned, they had draped themselves into red-white-and-blue bunting, and told us it's patriotic to spend money in a lagging economy.
A fairly large publicity firm, targeting book authors, ran a small American flag next to its logo, and told us the company "continues to offer our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those touched by the events," that it salutes "the heroism of those who continue to work tirelessly in rescue and relief efforts," and will continue to work with the media "to provide our clients with the optimum level of exposure."
In case we didn't understand the last sentence, it told us the time to pull back on advertising and promotion isn't now because "our experience has shown us that events like this, although very saddening, create unique opportunities that might not have presented themselves before." To take advantage of this "unique" opportunity, the company even developed a program that for only $750–$3,000 would target the media with our message.
This article was originally written a month after 9/11 and is reprinted demonstrating that in some ways little has changed in the intervening period.
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