Ten Years Later, DGC Looks Back on Sept. 11
DGC is a shop with a fair amount of age diversity among the staff. Colleagues range from recent college grads to PR/marketing vets – but we all remember where we were ten years ago on Sept. 11.
During an internal meeting this week, we discussed all of the news coverage starting to emerge around the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and the downing of United Flight 93. We ended up sharing stories about our own experiences on that catastrophic day and it turned into an interesting, maybe even cathartic session of reminiscing. Here are some snapshots:
Sam DiGennaro, CEO and Founder: The JWT New York office stopped in its tracks to pull together business-continuity and disaster-recovery teams. By Sept. 12, everyone in and outside the industry was so disturbed by any depiction of violence we had to pull a TV spot for Thermasilk shampoo. It had a fairytale setting with a sorcerer throwing swords at a princess’s hair. There was a lot of debate and sensitivity for months afterwards about images and words in ad messages and whether they held any hint or reference to structural or bodily harm.
Claire Eisenberg, Account Executive: I was a sophomore in high school living in a suburb outside of D.C. There was a lot of concern, especially once the Pentagon was hit. With family, neighbors and friends working downtown, students were slowly pulled out of classes to get in touch with their loved ones. Everyone seemed to be walking around in a daze – trying to comprehend the magnitude of what had happened.
Keith Fernbach, Account Director: I was working at an agency on West 34th Street. We huddled around a radio listening to a live interview with an eyewitness who began screaming when the first tower fell. All the bridges and tunnels were shut down so those of us who lived in New Jersey tried to get the ferry home with thousands of other people. Amazingly, everyone was very calm and orderly. Passengers coming from lower Manhattan were pulled aside to be hosed off. The streets of Hoboken turned into a triage unit, with rows and rows of cots set up to treat injured people who never arrived.
Chrissy Perez O’Rourke, Account Coordinator: I was in 8th grade in Bloomfield, N.J., and the principal called a couple of us into her office. I thought I was in trouble but she said our parents, who were waiting downstairs, would explain. My mom told me a plane hit a building in the city where my dad was working, and I just remember tons of messages on our home answering message, all asking “Is Jim OK? What just happened?” He was safe, but my mom, sisters and I sat in front of the TV and watched the footage play over again and again. It was devastating.
Kathleen Ruane, Senior Account Director: Two weeks before Sept. 11, our house burned down so my husband and I were living in the local Holiday Inn and trying to put our loss behind us. That day, I came out of the subway to hear that the World Trade Center was on fire. Before the morning was over, we knew how devastating that “fire” was for so many families and it became very clear that our personal loss of home and “property” was nothing more than an inconvenience now as so many faced the loss of loved ones.
Kathleen Sampey, Senior Account Director: On the night of Sept. 10, after a torrential rainstorm moved through the New York area, I flew to Atlanta on business. I woke up the next morning to the news on TV and had to stay in Atlanta the rest of the week because all air travel was suspended. The flight home is something I’ll never forget, especially when we flew over lower Manhattan and saw thick smoke still billowing out of the giant hole where the Twin Towers once stood. Our plane was about a third full. Some passengers screamed and burst into tears.
Howard Schacter, President: I was in my office at live entertainment company Live Nation (called SFX at the time) in Times Square. As head of Corp Comm, I was immediately thrust into emergency internal and external communications mode for the next 72 hours, including announcing which of our thousands of concerts and Broadway shows were being postponed and for how long. I remember the cast and crew of The Producers, one of our shows, wanting desperately to perform that night – “the show must go on,” was their sentiment. While that didn’t happen it did drive a decision for Broadway shows to get back on stage on Sept. 13.