Industry executives remember that fateful day two decades ago.

The 9/11 attacks physically happened in New York City, but it was a crisis that shook the entire world.

In the New York-centric advertising industry, countless people remember heading to work that day as usual, ready to bury themselves in pitches and meetings and brainstorm sessions and spreadsheets. Instead, they were met with a horrifying threat that would reshape the city and the world.

Even those sitting in offices as far away as Bermuda and London felt the shocks of 9/11. Advertising executives who had undoubtedly visited New York before for a client pitch or two thought about their American counterparts and feared for their own lives and homes.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Campaign US rounded up some recollections of that day from advertising executives across the country and the world who will never forget.

Eileen Kiernan, global CEO, UM
I still have so many vivid and visceral memories of that terrible day. So much horror, chaos and unimaginable tragedy. I was working at Time Inc. and had a non-urgent meeting at 9am. The TV was on in my office and as I was tracking the unfolding events, I could tell it was bad. And yet, out of some sort of bizarre and naïve professional courtesy, we went ahead with this nonsensical meeting while our sense of the world collapsed.

I think about that sometimes, why professional politeness took over at that moment. Looking back, it seems ludicrous. We didn’t have the context then, but we do now. I hope there’s a gift in that – that we will forever have learned to choose right over polite.

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