Bizarre outrage over 9/11 allusions in De Niro commercial

The Indo-Asian News Service 'reports' that "an American Express TV commercial, in which Robert De Niro talks about Ground Zero, has angered fans who feel the Hollywood star should not use the 9/11 tragedy to sell a product." quoting nobody in particular here. The root of this hoopla stems from the Digital Spy forums. Hey journalists, you might want to not troll forums for article fodder.

"For a guy who is supposed to love the city, you'd think he'd show a bit more class... Using a tragedy to sell a product stinks."

In the ad, De Niro waxes poetically about New York City:

"My oldest friend. My first love. My east. My far east. My west side. My private side. My heartbreak. My heart beat.
My life happens here. My card is American Express."

AnonymousCoward's picture
AnonymousCoward's picture

Oh bullshite! What outrage? No one "owns" that tragedy, yet some people feel entitled to set boundries for it. I think there is a line between good and bad taste, and most people will know when that's been crossed.

When George W Bush, Chimpresident of the US, used photos of Ground Zero in his campaign ads, THAT was in poor taste. He (his comm. pros) tried to associate the events of 9-11 with the President's decision to invade Iraq. He trampled all over good taste there.

With Amex' ad, De Niro talks about his personal experience as a New Yorker. What more defining event than the crisp knife edge of before and after 9-11? Given that Amex' offices are located at Ground Zero, it took a lot of guts for them to include that, but it was REAL. And, in my opinion, in good taste.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Besides the fact that De Niro probably isn't responsible for the words he utters (although I suppose it *is* possible he did write his own copy, but I doubt it), I don't hear him talking about Ground Zero. Did I miss something?

Personally, I'm not fond of this campaign overall. Why do I care about the people who use American Express? Why do I care that it's their card? I don't.

AnonymousCoward's picture

He says "my heartbreak" and they show Ground Zero (quick, tasteful cut).

Amex is using normative influence here. In the same manner that "choosy mothers choose Jif," "cool NYers (and people aspiring to be like cool NYers) use Amex. You should too."

I kind of like the Portraits that Amex is using. It's a wholly undifferentiated product so snob- and cool-appeal is a good tool in the toolbox for this.

caffeinegoddess's picture

ah. I see. I must have missed the quick cut. Quite honestly I don't see anything distasteful in that either.

Maybe I'm too cynical for that normative influence thing. I can't stand that "choosy mothers choose Jif" crap either. The idea that you're a bad mother based on the choice you make about peanut butter is a bit crap, especially when you could get natural peanut butter, which would be an even better choice. ;)

Not to totally hack the AMEX spots apart, I do think that the they are well shot.

Dabitch's picture

I'm wondering if there really is an outrage... Like you both say there's nothing really that offensive about the way it's done, and De Niro is simply talking about New York... No quotes or anything in that article that I linked to. Odd.

ps - I don't choose Jif!

philmang's picture

most of the comments i have heard relate to mild surprise that de niro would be in an ad... but all tend to agree that the film festival is the driving force there. haven't heard a peep about the WTC image.

troymcclure's picture

While I wouldn't go so far as to call it an "outrage," I do have qualms about using the tragedy of 9/11 to sell anything - whether it's a credit card or a trumped-up war.

Robblink's picture

As a New Yorker, I wasn't offended by the spot. It was just DeNiro talkin' about his neighborhood.

ernieschenck's picture

I've been pretty wound up lately about what I consider more and more frequent attempts to cross the line bewteen good and bad taste. But like the spot creatively or not, I don't see the problem. It's very quick and it is definitely in good taste. Had the entire spot orbited around 9-11, then yeah, maybe AMEX would have been pushing it. But this is DeNiro's neighborhood, his reality and Ground Zero is a part of that reality.

skip's picture

I'm not sure how you can do a commercial referencing DeNiro, NYC and the Tribeca Film Festival without a 9/11 reference.

I mean, WTC is practically in his backyard, and Tribeca was one of the neighborhoods most affected by 9/11. The film festival is Bobby's baby, and he started it in large parts to undo the attacks' economic damage to Lower Manhattan. You pretty much have to have WTC in there.

ernieschenck's picture

Couldn't have said it better, Skip. Maybe whoever it is who's so outraged doesn't understand about DeNiro and his connection to NYC.