July 6, 2006

Terrorism makes this ad special

IBM WTC adAm I the only person who looks at this IBM ad and sees a depiction of the World Trade Center after the first tower was hit on the morning of September 11, 2001? This explosive image that I guess is supposed to express creativity or something looks to me more like smoke and flames rising from the tower, just moments before the second tower was struck.

Is it as blatantly obvious as I think it is? Or is it just that I made the association because I saw this ad displayed poster-size and back-lit at my departing gate at the airport?

Update: Wow. Judging by the almost 50 comments so far today, I guess this isn’t going to go down in history as my most successful post ever. Fark.com sent lots of people my way, and some Farkers can sure be vicious in the comments (welcome to my site, Fark readers — I hope you explore the rest of it while you’re here). Just to be clear, I’m not someone who sees 9/11 imagery everywhere I look (or faces on Mars, etc). And I certainly wasn’t offended by the ad. I too am bothered by people who confuse simply being reminded of a tragedy with actually being offended by whatever triggered that memory. I just thought this particular ad looked so obviously like the twin towers to me that its placement at the airport of all places could have been thought out a bit better. But people see all sorts of things in different ways, and I guess I’m not in the majority with this one. At any rate, you can read on in the comments to see lots and lots of people who disagree with me, and a few who agree. But be warned: Some of the less mature Farkers’ responses may not be suitable for (but perhaps were written by) young children.


My initial reaction was that it looked like smokestacks at a factory.

i didn’t really see it until you pointed it out, but now i can’t look at it any other way.
i thought it was kind of cute at first, now i think it’s a bit weird.

It’s a frickin add for business services.. who cares?

You have way too much time on your hands, or possibly just read into things a little bit too far. I’m not sure if you remember correctly, but to the best of my knowledge the plane didn’t hit the roof of the tower.

It’s an ad. A good one, at that. STFW and GBTW.

I see a cig

Money shot.

That is all.

Your just an idiot, did you also fold a $20 american bill and see the pentagon on fire and claim conspiracy?

A guy wrote into our local paper saying the same thing about a Cingular ad…

Get over it. You can see whatever you want to see, but it’s a stretch.

Yes you are the only person…how’s the new tinfoil hat?

I see a retarded ad.

Yep, definitely a money shot. But maybe I’m just immature.

It looks like love. And clouds.

Oh my f**king god get over it.

Wow, you people are vicious! I guess that’s what happens when you’re linked to from Fark. I guess this won’t go down as my most popular post ever.

I don’t see things like this everywhere I look, like some people do. But I was at the airport and this looked a lot like the twin towers to me. I wasn’t offended by it, but thought it could have been thought out better.

Okay, you can go back to flaming me now.


It’s like those starbucks ads. The ones with the dragonflies or whatever flying towards drinks.
They’re drinks and bugs. That’s it.

Umm no I dont see the twin towers, sorry.

I blame Clinton for failing to handle this the first time.

I see a design that borrows elegant forms from 60’s style concert posters and an organic visual analogy to growth in the supposed companies 4th quarter. What I don’t see is TWC/9/11, maybe if I was at the airport in NYC after visiting ground zero I might make that association but even thats a far stretch.


I see what you saw and saw it immediately.

No. It really doesn’t. Must be you in your mindspace. Understandable, but I really think it’s a stretch.

Yep. I saw a tower on fire even before I saw the headline.

Yes, it is just you.

I didn’t immediately think it was the WTC, but if I saw it at the departure gate at an airport, I’d probably make the connection.

I think it’s an acceptable ad in general, but in that context it’s inappropriate.

Why don’t you go ahead and say its offensive because its racist. Yes, I think you are being that dumb.

OMFG Dat’s raaaysist!

It looks like a growing erection that results in an orgasm to me…

i think your right it does look like the wtc and ive seen this ad before on my departure and i was paranoid the entire flight

I saw it even before reading the article you wrote. The flowers coming off the tress look a lot like burning ash…

I see it as, 4th quarter profits is up, in new and exponential ways. Others see it as what is being constantly thrown in the face of all americans. I think we are just being a little too paranoid.

It’s just a wang

I saw a roman candle.

Haha I hope you let it roll over as a quick odd moment in life. Fark is a bag of hateful elitists.

\\you’ve been slashed

I think the ad absolutely conjures up images of the towers, and the “new growth” in the copy will obviously rise from the ashes of the old. It’s simply in poor taste. Perhaps asking “Is it just me?” is pointless. Your own insight is valid (no one can argue with how you interpret art), and it doesn’t matter what anyone else flippantly thinks.

I saw a turtle.

Dude — way over reaction here — have you ever made a graph of revenues from MS Excel?….the bar chart is pretty flat…somebody just used some formatting and added a pretty design that they noticed when they gagged on the BONG!!!

(i.e. that is what I think it looks like)

And, hey Tim, ya you up above who points out that 4th quarter profits are up in “exponential ways”…if you count the wasted bong hit - ya they’re up — if not…it is flat at best…

People, people, the contraction for “you are” is “you’re.”

It’s just a metaphor for the Globalist Corporate System… burning down (figuratively) our once beautiful planet, and leaving us with the one dimensional drab future of Slavery that they desire for us.

be happy

the Ministry of Homeland Security will be watching over you.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery

rejoice comrades.

I read your post before looking at it, and at first glance, I DID see the WTC. The more I look at it though, the less and less it really looks like the WTC.


Give the guy a break for having an over-active imagination… It kind of looks like the WTC to me too, but obviously it isn’t really supposed to. Look at this page and read how he got the idea for the blogpage name.. the guy is creative, not crazy.
Well, maybe he is crazy, has anyone checked his basement for jars of human waste?

…come to think of it - does anyone think there is a conspiracy with the name “IBM”? any one think the letters stand for anything? No?

Go up to your boss tomorrow and simply say “IBM” and walk away, add a swagger to your walk and you get a free day off, or lunch is on me!

My first reaction was that I thought it was the results of an atom smasher. The ad’s pretty small tho. Hard to tell what it’s supposed to be. But frankly, WTF would IBM have to gain by reminding people of a national tragedy, while trying to sell them something? Or, are bar graphs now verboten in print media cuz some oversensitive nut sees WTC buildings in every vertical line they see? I hope not.

Come to think of it, that ad looks like it could be from the 80’s…

IBM = International Business Machines, or at least it used to

Its a graph chart wtf

Looks like tacky gay vectorized graphics that got popular early 2000

Ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta too much time on your hands…

Umm, I see a bar graph with the final bar drawn by a flamin’ fruitcake.

Wow. Some people can be such jerks? Are you still living with your parents? Can you not see that this he got a bit unnerved to see this while about to get onto an airplane?

Anyways, it does look a little too much like the 9/11 tragedy anyways. Accidental or not, it is in bad taste to have it near departure gates in airports. You would think that possibly the marketing people would have caught that before going public with it.

Oh, and the “tin foil hat” thing is a really intellegent way to talk.

One man’s flame is another man’s meat. I guess the Ad agency that did it is trying some psycho programming. Its probably a CIA sponsored ad too….Paranoia is infectious

I see 4 cigarettes. Two of them are new, two are various sized butts. One of the new ones is being lit and smoked by a very lucky individual who can still smoke…Oh man, I wanna cigarette. Bad.

Sounds like your feelings were kinda hurt by various anonymous internet posters. This is a big mistake. Don’t ever let ‘em see you sweat, kid. And don’t ever, ever, ever, apologize. Especially to women.

First, thank you for inadvertently reminding me why I don’t read fark or associate with anyone who does if I can help it. Especially those who would (without noting the irony) waste their time telling you (in a barely legible fashion) that you are wasting your time.

I mean, what nerve do you hit there? You saw an “elephant-shaped cloud”, so to speak, and they all jumped down your throat. Well, they’ll be gone soon enough and I’ll still be a reader of your stuff when that happy day occurs.

{ k }

Wow, it’s depressing how many of these hyper-aggressive, semi-literate 12-year-olds didn’t even understand the meaning of David’d post. He wasn’t claiming conspiracy, he was claiming that IBM and/or their chosen ad agency pulled a boner. Even if you don’t agree with David’s perception of the ad, clearly a lot of people do, me included.
(but hey, why don’t you write another “Yes, it’s just you” post anyway. Those are awesome.)
So the bottom line is: unless IBM wanted potential customers to think of 9/11, the ad is a failure. Which is too bad, because I kind of like the design.

Here via Wired, and, yes, I saw the Towers immediately, even before I read your headline. Any ad that conjures up such a negative association with so many folks is a poor one.

You´re right, at first glance the WTC is there.

Wicked I say


I saw this same thing in the smoke shop… A few bongs for sale and the guy behind the counter doing a demonstration….And, uh, no, of course I’ve never smoked any pot.

I like to put gerbals in my butt.WoooooooooooooooooooHooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!11111111oneoneone

Are you serious? You trying to say that ad looks like the WTC’s is about as bad as hollywood already trying to make money off 9/11. Get a grip, there is no WTC, just a bar graph stating strong company innovation and growth……….

I didn’t pick it up till you mentioned it, but now I really see it. As for the Farkers who blast you, Fark ‘em. Keep up the good work!

It’s ok David some people are just A-holes. I can see why you think it looks 911’ish though.

It’s ok David some people are just A-holes. I can see why you think it looks 911’ish though.

I totally agree, and within seconds it reminded me of this: http://www.lowculture.com/archives/2004/11/low_culture_exc_2.html

That was the best picture I could find…I saw it on a highway in New Jersey numerous times and thought it wildly inappropriate

i think you’re right, it is pretty reminiscent. i don’t think it’s oversensitive to think that madison avenue probably could do better with their money than remind people of something pretty upsetting — not ‘cause it’s offensive, but ‘cause it’s bad business.

Most of these comments are absolutely ridiculous (except that the ad looks like love … cuz it does … sweet, tender love) … other than that: don’t clutter this fine blog with worthless sludge!

And, jesus christ, how many stoners have absolutely nothing to do with their time? Go play a video game or beat off you worthless bastid’s!

Cool site. Thanks!
http://adult-personals.group-love.com/ adult personals

Advertising is a form of art. It means different things to different people.
You are narrow minded fools who sit on the internet critisising other peoples interpretations.

I didn’t see 9/11 in that pic, but now that it has been suggested it looks a hell of a lot like the two towers.

even though the tower’s roof didnt get his by the plane, that pic looks a hell of a lot like the towers burning(smoke rising up…)

I’ve worked in advertising(DTP) for 5 years and you would be surprised what subliminal imagery is added to things to make it stick with people.

I’m not screaming conspiracy theory, but it is far from impossible that the artist is using imagery from 9/11 to solidify the ad in peoples mind.

Thanks a for a great site and I’m sorry you have to endure the comments of such retards.

I found your site after searching for this ad. After seeing it at the airport I couldn’t believe it. Having a friend in big business marketing I know how much thought, time, and money goes into these things and trust me…it’s NEVER JUST AN ADD! Good observation!

Yes, I see the resemblance quite well.

Wow, I agree, that really does look like the towers. I saw it right away. I was googling ads or something, and this came up. It interested me so much, I wanted to see what site was talking about it. So in that sense, a failure of an advertisement for a company is a successful advertisement for your site. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, yes?
Anyway, I know this is pretty late in the thread. I just wanted to give my 2 cents.
I don’t think you’re nuts by the way. It’s silly to think that with the amount of thought advertising agencies put into their work, that something like this would slip by unnoticed. I read all of the posts for this article and the one thing that stirred things up the most is the link to another IBM image of the towers. IBM is certainly using tasteless advertising. But who isn’t these days? What’s sickening to me is the sheer number of advertising. To suggest that advertising is unobtrusive anyway is just as insulting. At least to me.
On the other hand, suggesting that advertising is an art form is a good argument. Sure! Artists have for a long time advertised their skills in pottery and portraiture.
So back to the point then. This is a disturbing ad. But it’s funny too (in a disturbing way)
Thanks for the ongoing conversation about ads!