Marsh & McLennan Blasts N.Y. Post Criticism of Ad Photos

June 12, 2007

Marsh & McLennan Companies has vigorously defended its use of photographs in a recent ad campaign against the suggestion by a New York newspaper that they contain images of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

The risk and insurance firm, which lost 355 employees in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, called the New York Post article “not only wildly wrong, but cruel and despicable.”

The New York Post article that ran June 11 quotes relatives of people who died in the attacks as saying the reflections in the eyes of the people photographed look like the Twin Towers.

“As a company that lost 355 colleagues in the 9/11 terror attacks, MMC is outraged that the New York Post would run a story designed to resurrect the pain and anguish experienced by MMC colleagues and, in particular, the families of those colleagues who perished on September 11, 2001,” MMC said in a statement.

The photos used in the campaign were taken by portrait photographer Martin Schoeller, whose work is characterized by a lighting technique in which he reflects light from two five-foot high light stanchions into the subject’s eyes. He has used the technique for more than a decade and has photographed hundreds of people using it, including President Bill Clinton and numerous celebrities, according to the company.

“The mere suggestion that MMC would include, suggest or disregard 9/11 imagery in its ad campaign is not only wildly wrong, but cruel and despicable. Indeed, it is the Post’s own bizarre theory that the photographs are in some way connected to the tragedy of 9/11,” MMC added.

In a letter accompanying MMC’s statement, the agency for the photographer explains the signature lighting technique used and maintains that “nothing was super-imposed in the eyes and all elements of each of the images are created in camera.” It said any statement indicating otherwise would be “false and inaccurate.”

The matter may not be over, as the insurance firm vowed to seek remedies.

“It is unfortunate that the Post chose to publish this story with so little regard for the emotional toll it might take on the 9/11 families and survivors. The decision to do so in the face of all evidence to the contrary is highly irresponsible and a regrettable example of tabloid journalism that puts sensationalism ahead of the truth. The firm will explore all possible remedies against the newspaper in connection with this matter.”

As part of its statement, MMC included the following links:

A reflection of the photographer (Martin Schoeller, standing between two light fixtures), seen in the pupils of a portrait subject;
http://www.mmc.com/news/New_Orleans_OOH_3-29.pdf

Similar photos Schoeller has taken of political figures and celebrities, showing the exact same type of light reflections;
http://www.mediastorm.org/0002.htm

A letter from Schoeller’s agency addressing this matter.
http://www.mmc.com/news/Martin_Schoeller_Statement.pdf

Source: MMC
www.mmc.com

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