AT&T 9/11 Memorial Ad Controversy

AT&T 9/11 Memorial Ad Controversy

Part of a series on September 11th, 2001 Attacks. [View Related Entries]

Updated Sep 16, 2013 at 01:18PM EDT by Brad.

Added Sep 11, 2013 at 04:23PM EDT by compcarp.

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On the morning of September 11th, 2013, the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, American multinational telecomm company AT&T tweeted a photograph of the New York City skyline with the “towers of light” framed inside the screen of a Blackberry smartphone, accompanied by a short message which read “Never Forget”. The photograph was also simultaneously posted via AT&T’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Notable Developments

Online Reactions

The company’s social media updates were quickly met by a wide range of criticisms from Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere online, with many followers slamming the post as inappropriate and a “tacky” product placement. In the following hours, the instant backlash was promptly picked up by internet blogs, ad news sites and other mainstream media outlets, ranging from BuzzFeed[3], Gawker[4] and Ars Technica[7] to ABC News[5], The Washington Post[9] and Business Insider.[6]

After garnering more than 300 retweets and 400 shares on Facebook, AT&T’s posts were completely removed from their official accounts and replaced with an apologetic tweet (shown below), although the news of the gaffe continued to spread through screenshots of the original posts.

AT&T CEO’s Apology

On September 12th, 2013, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson issued a formal apology via company’s public relations blog[8], in which he acknowledged the mistake and vowed to keep out of any attempt at commercializing the events of 9/11.

I want to personally express to our customers, employees, and all those impacted by the events of 9/11 my heartfelt apologies. I consider that date a solemn occasion each year, a time when I reach out to those I was with on that awful day, share a moment of reflection for the lives lost and express my love of country. It is a day that should never be forgotten and never, ever commercialized. I commit AT&T to this standard as we move forward.

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Top Comments

Umbra Nyx
Umbra Nyx

Honestly, the AT&T ad doesn’t seem any worse to me than all those “9/11 Never Forget” bumper stickers, or those flags that clip to the car window. They made a mistake, the CEO apologized, and there’s no reason to get worked up about it. These things happen.


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