Texas advertising agency GSD&M took the initiative in the days after the September 11 attacks in 2011 with “I Am An American”, a television advertising campaign celebrating diversity in the USA. Creatives from the company were in Maryland for a meeting with Land Rover clients when the attacks occurred. With air flights suspended the creative team chose to drive home to Texas. Along the way they decided to create a public service announcement (PSA) that would address the temptation to label “UnAmerican” those with Middle Eastern origins or appearances.
Broadcast producers lined up directors, producers, and editors from around the country. Roy Spence, agency chairman, contacted the Ad Council about being a partner and sponsor. “I am an American” went to air nationally 10 days after the attacks. 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.”
Click on the image below to play the 10th Anniversary “I Am An American” video in YouTube (HD)
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.
The “I Am An American” campaign was developed at GSD&M, Austin, by creative directors Jeremy Postaer and David Crawford, copywriters Michael Buss and Russell Lambrecht and art director Robert Story.
Filming was shot by director Norman Bonney and producer Kristin Loudis (San Francisco), director Rocky Powell and producer Mimsie Sumner (Dallas), director of photography Brown Cooper, producer Sharon Reinschmiedt, director Jackson Saunders (Austin), director Hugh Keenan and producer Taylor Pinson at Believe Media, Los Angeles, director/producer Jimmy Williams and director of photography Jason Dowdle at CenterLine, Raleigh, director Susan Frömke and producer Bill Curren at Maysles Films, New York, director Charlie Carlson, executive producers Donald O’Connor and Jack Turney at Compulsive Pictures, New York.
Editor was Tom Acito at MatchFrame, Austin.
Music, “Short Trip Home”, was composed by Edgar Meyer, Eggbert Music, Hendon Music, and performed by Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall from the album SHORT TRIP HOME. Courtesy of Sony Classical by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.