April 13, 2010

MadAve's New Role in 9/11's Memorial


It must surely strike other people besides us in NYC and all around the country that the 911 phone# was - and continues to be - the dial-up to call for help. Therefore, it makes us cross-eyed to think about how that number - once known for rescue - changed on 9/11.

Recently we heard a radio campaign which shook us on the simplicity and emotion of individuals recalling where they were when they heard the news. You just hear people state where they were. On the subway, in the supermarket, feeding their child, in their office, watching television. You instantly get it.

A tougher job would be harder to find for any one person or organization to accomplish the job of creating the stitch work and mending to heal a deep national wound. Some might say to create something all parties would endorse - to believe adequate - as acknowledgement and agreement that the WTC area has been re-born, might never be accomplished. Ever. Well, TBWA\Chiat\Day produced that campaign.

It's part of the effort asking for donations to help build a memorial acknowledging the 360 degree of experiences the world went through, one individual at a time on that day. They are profound. The campaign is simply referred to, "It's time."

We all know other efforts were begun earlier. One in particular that is unsettling, which we bring up due to its relevance and use of symbols is the new complex referred to as the "Freedom Tower."

If we had our druthers we would call it the "Communications Tower" and will get to our reasoning in a moment. The problem we have with the well-intentioned "Freedom" message is that - for so many reasons - there is little question that our freedom has been curtailed. We feel no need to cover the precipitating events that have followed. Just listen to the radio spots and it's clear that "freedom" does not shine through. They are about the need for rescue.

The restoration and healing with which all these efforts hope to achieve should not be static monuments to those lost and those left behind. They should be about action. Communication is an action. The restoration should be about "pushing back." It should be about, "Oh, yeah? I don't think so." Pushing back at the forces that tried to break our spirit; that tried to crush our freedom.

And the simple reality of what is yet to be built "is" a Communications Tower. Few people really understand this. The community to be most empowered by this factor is Madison Avenue and yet there's almost no knowledge of this.

There's also a pragmatic reason for this consideration. Read this National Telecommunications and Information Administration report about the creation of the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA) and the brilliant plans that organization is building as a powerful new platform for communication. This year alone they have overseen deals to put as many as 22 antennae on top of Freedom Tower for television, radio and other wireless transmitters. The Freedom Tower will be the new home to TV channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 28, 30, 31, 36, 38, 40, 41, 44, 45, 47, 53, 56, 61, and 68. That's just for starters.

Just under the antennae, the MTVA has taken two gigantic floors, which will provide major anticipated income and efficiency for these media companies, all of whom will be able to easier to send cable, satellite and digital data to more people nationally and globally than the WTC ever could. Given the ever increasingly expansion of the communications field, there may be great synergy in this idea.

The purpose of the Communications Tower would be to provide a platform of expression. Permanently; to take action for the human right to communicate. And to fight and protect the basic human right to communicate, if necessary.

Let's look at it in non-political terms, back to an era and a story that hopefully hits upon our imprecise attempt to communicate this important point.

If you recall, in Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart's character Rick Blaine - proprietor of the club, "Rick's Americain" - was asked to sit down by Capt. Louie Renault to meet two officers of The Third Reich. Bogart represents the indomitable spirit of what the Freedom Tower lacks and what The World Communications Center would become.

Strasser: "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, unofficially of course?"
Rick: "Make it official if you like."
Strasser: "What is your nationality?"
Rick: "I'm a drunkard."
Louie: (laughing) "That makes Rick a citizen of the world!"
Rick: "I was born in New York City if that will help you any."
Strasser: "I understand you came to here from Paris at the time of the occupation."
Rick: "There seems to be no secret about that."
Strasser: "Are you one of those people that can not imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?"
Rick: "It's not particularly my beloved Paris."
Heintz: "Can you imagine us in London?"
Rick: "When you get there, ask me."
Louie: (laughing) "A diplomacist!"
Strasser: "How about New York?"
Rick: "Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

Once again, as the WTC was, it will house the trading an exchanging of financial goods and services which it should. But on a deeper level these trades and exchanges are really hardware expressions of value. With the net these trades and exchanges of software and virtual are expressions of value. It should be about the trading and sharing of expression.

Here's our 2 cents. It should be The World Communications Center. The World Communications Center would a real, living breathing entity. It will be a symbolic Bogart-like "Oh yeah?" response to anyone who tries to suppress our right to communicate. Our response to any future challenge - regardless of what else we might respond with - will be our instance on the continuation and heightening of even more communication.

Up until now, people on Madison Avenue have taken an appropriate amount of time to be justifiably quiet on this national necessity. Before now, it was impossible to craft the words, emotions and understanding of Ground Zero and how to endeavor to help us heal. That time is now over. According to Jay Chiat's legacy tower of communications power, it's now time.

We shouldn't stop there. Let's look at the larger effort. How will we ever rebuild America's sacred ground; sacred not the least of which is because it's where Henry Hudson first established a frontier we now refer to as the United States.

Lower Manhattan's twirly roads and enclaves still reflect the original Dutch settlement's narrow streets and names. Ask any cab driver.

Do you know why the street of capitalistic dreams is actually called "Wall Street?" Do you know why the wall was built? Do you know who built the wall? We can tell you it was not Dow Jones, however much we respect that company.

Communication represents the real life application of views of every nature, thought and constituency. It is the projectile of freedom. After changing his life in Casablanca, Bogart's character ultimately took action when it was needed.

Let's make 911 once again stand for the number we think of to get rescued versus what 9/11 now stands for; the much precious need for its rescue and the need to heal our hearts, minds and souls.

"It's time"...for Madison Avenue to communicate this.


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