Saatchi's boss suggested using Ground Zero to publicize Air New Zealand.
Posted by Morrissey on September 8, 2021, 5:00 am, in reply to "Don't think I have ever seen such a deluge of 9/11 programmes on the telly...."
Kevin Roberts’ performance on TV3 chat show The Panel, late 2001. |
Anyone with a taste for the absurd, the creepy and the pretentious should check out the “inspirational” website of Saatchi advertising supremo “Doctor” Kevin Roberts. The man who has, to this writer’s knowledge, never uttered a sentence that is not complete and unmitigated bullshit, offers up, for our edification, the complete list of his public speeches and his exciting, radical and deep personal philosophy, which can be summed up thusly: New Zealand is “on the edge”, and we’re all CRA-A-A-A-A-A-AZY, ma-a-a-a-a-aan, and that’s COOL. That, and something even dopier, about “love brands”.
In 1999, Roberts attracted almost universal condemnation and ridicule by somehow persuading Air New Zealand to have one of its jumbo jets painted with a huge, grotesque, distorted mural of the All Black front row. This mortified, shamed and humiliated the players, angered the All Black coach John Hart, and disgusted the fans. However, Roberts, having clout because of his inordinate influence and power on the NZRFU board, forced it through, and the jet was daubed with the atrocity.
Two years after that, on September 11, 2001, Roberts watched the WTC collapse from the Saatchi offices, in a nearby building. Undaunted by any notions of common sense or legality, he then wrote an open letter to the New York Times urging the governor George Pataki to suspend the law and extend the reign of the criminal, Mafia-connected mayor Rudolf Giuliani. In a rare demonstration of nous, Governor Pataki ignored the inane petition.
Shortly after that embarrassment, Roberts was back in New Zealand, appearing as a guest on the dismal TV3 chat show, The Panel. Even his half-drunken fellow-panelists were visibly shocked by Roberts’ performance that night: putting aside such troublesome notions as restraint, sensitivity or decency, Roberts said this:
“You know what New Zealand should have done after September 11? We should have sent a planeload of soldiers in an Air New Zealand jumbo jet, all dressed in black bomber jackets with a silver fern on them, and taken them to Ground Zero, because we’re good at urban disasters. And they would have danced a haka on the site and then started digging. The WORLD’S MEDIA would have filmed this, and the publicity would have been absolutely PRICELESS.”
At this point, there was utter silence on the set. The usual guffawing and chuckling had stopped. You could truly have heard a pin drop. Every panelist, including the inebriated Pam Corkery, was struck dumb.
Eventually one female panellist spoke up: “Isn’t that…. isn’t that a bit…..cynical?”
The normally smiling Roberts mien clouded over wrathfully: “No, it’s not cynical,” he snarled, clearly angry that anyone had had the temerity to question his brilliance. “It would have been a massive gesture of LOVE.”