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9/11 amnesia: World Wildlife Fund disowns tasteless ad

September 2, 2009 |  7:23 am

The fake World Wildlife ad of planes descending on Lower Manhattan

As the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans approaches, the usually creature-friendly World Wildlife Fund has been forced to explain how an image bearing its logo -- and showing planes descending on lower Manhattan -- won a recent contest for public service.

The ad’s tag line: "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it."

The whole thing started last December in Brazil, where an ad agency – DDB Brazil – held a brainstorming session in hopes of winning the WWF's business. This is the ad they came up with.

Trouble is, according to the WWF, the idea was quickly rejected by its officials there.

"You hear a lot of concepts in meetings. We assumed it was dead and gone,” said WWF spokeswoman Leslie Aun. “But it appears now that someone submitted it to a competition."

At the ad agency in Brazil, spokeswoman Lana Pinheiro said the team that developed the concept “is no longer with the agency” and that after the idea was killed in December, the ad “should never have been made.”

But this being the Internet age, the unauthorized ad has now gone viral. When news spread that the ad had won the best public service print ad of 2009 from the Manhattan-based One Club, members started besieging the WWF, the world’s largest conservation group, with outraged calls.

All of which left the folks at WWF headquarters in Washington to ponder the difficulties of disassociating with an ad they never approved.

"We are just utterly appalled," said Aun. Calling the ad "offensive and tasteless," she added, "This ad is not something that anyone in our organization would ever have signed off on."

 -- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: DDB Brazil

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