One of the commercials for Super Bowl 50 did not go over particularly well with viewers—the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia ran an ad that included shocking 9/11 footage to promote tourism for Colonial Williamsburg.
The commercial relived the storied history of America, displaying footage of significant moments in our country’s history in order to demonstrate all that we have been through. However, the inclusion of the burning twin towers elicited backlash from the public, who saw the move as exploitative.
Colonial Williamsburg ad evoking 9/11 has been biggest display of offense this whole Super Bowl— Ethan Sacks (@ethanjsacks) February 8, 2016
What's a bigger tragedy than 9/11? Working at Colonial Williamsburg. #ColonialWilliamsbummer— taran killam (@TaranKillam) February 8, 2016
"Our polls show that people want 9/11 images in their commercials"- Colonial Williamsburg's ad agency— Clemzingis (@TheClemReport) February 8, 2016
Can... Can Colonial Williamsburg reverse 9/11?— Christine Nangle (@nanglish) February 8, 2016
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation spokesman Joe Straw defended the commercial in a statement to the New York Daily News, claiming that, “We understand and respect that some of the images depicted in the ad are jarring…Our ad is meant to walk viewers backwards through time, challenging them to reflect on how our collective history and struggles shape who we are as Americans today. We cannot forget our sacrifices or our tragedies even as we celebrate our accomplishments.”
Nevertheless, the ad may have hurt more than helped Colonial Williamsburg’s tourism.