The idea for the "I am an American"
public service advertisement was conceived on a road trip
following the tragedies of September 11th. Air transportation
was grounded after the terrorist attacks, and as a result,
executives from Austin, Texas ad agency GSD&M, found themselves
stranded in Annapolis, Maryland, following a client meeting.
Rather than waiting to catch a flight home, they decided to
drive back to Texas. As they reflected on the tragic events
of the day, they thought about what it is that makes America
Somewhere around Raleigh, GSD&M's creative director proposed
the idea of creating a PSA that would celebrate the country's
extraordinary diversity. Fearing a possible backlash against
Arab Americans and other ethnic groups after the attacks,
GSD&M decided to communicate a message that would remind
Americans that this was the time to unite as a country.
By the next morning, broadcast producers at the agency were
soliciting the help of directors, commercial producers and
editors across the country. Everyone was eager to volunteer
and filming began immediately in cities nationwide. The final
version of the PSA features people of many ages, races and
religions proudly stating "I Am an American." The
spot ends with the words, E Pluribus Unum, which means out
of many, one. That phrase communicates that, "out of
many faces, religions, geographical backgrounds, and ethnicities,
we are one nation."
GSD&M President Roy Spence contacted the Ad Council about
the concept as soon as the group made it back to Austin. The
Ad Council embraced the idea and for the first time in its
history became the sole signatory of a PSA. "I am an
American" was distributed to media broadcast outlets
nationwide. The spot was on the air within 10 days of the
The response to the campaign has been unprecedented. In just
the first three months, the media donated more than $14 million
in time and space to air the spot. As a result of that media
support, emails and phone calls poured in from hundreds of
Americans around the world who were moved by the spot, and
thanked the Ad Council for bringing such an important message
to the country at this time.
One person wrote, "When the twin towers came crashing
down, I didn't cry. Like everyone else, I was in shock. When
I saw your PSA 'I Am an American,' I did cry. Thank you for
putting forth the best and most appropriate PSA ever."
Many of the emails were so heartening that they were compiled
in a booklet and sent out to the volunteers who helped with
the project. The PSA continues to air on broadcast and cable
stations nationwide, and its important message still resonates
with people around the world.
|I am an American (2001)
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.