UCF community reacts to controversial 9/11 commercial

Photo by Deanna Ferrante. The American flag flies over the UCF Veterans Memorial on Memory Mall.

Disgraceful, offensive and thoughtless: These are the words members of the UCF community are using to describe a controversial advertisement by a mattress company depicting the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

The video starts with Cherise Bonanno, the store manager of the San Antonio Miracle Mattress store, introducing the store’s “Twin Towers Sale” as two employees, the American flag and two piles of mattresses—representing the site of the attack—stand behind her. The two employees are then seen falling backwards into the piles in a seeming reenactment of the 2001 terrorist attack. The ad concludes with Bonanno saying, “We’ll never forget.”

After the commercial went viral, Miracle Mattress received tremendous backlash through its social media accounts, including Facebook, where it continues to receive criticism from users.

The company’s owner, Mike Bonanno, issued an apology saying that the store will be closed indefinitely due to death threats sparked by the ad.

Here in Central Florida, some UCF students said they found the commercial highly offensive and dishonoring to the victims of 9/11.

“There are so many ways to advertise for mattress sales. Do not bring the Twin Towers in the image. I mean, it’s pretty offensive to so many people,” Mouna Mikou, a masters student, said.

Jennifer Lindberg, a biology major, said that she found the ad to be very offensive and disturbing, especially the part where they reenacted the falling of the towers.

“I don’t think there’s any recovery after this. They should’ve just avoided the situation all around,” Lindberg.

Anna-Michelle Lavandier, an alumna whose parents worked in New York City during the time of the terrorist attack, was just 9 years old at the time.

“It’s not something to be made fun of, you know? This was the last day of someone’s life,” Lavandier said.

Lavandier also opened up about her vivid memory on the day of Sept. 11.

“I was at school that day … When I first heard the news, I guess my parents were the only ones who worked in NYC because I started just crying and screaming hysterically in the middle of the classroom, saying: ‘What about my mom? I need to get my mom!’… I was terrified because if something happened in New York, I had no way of contacting my mother,” she said.

“When I remember her walking through the door, I was already crying hysterically, and I wrapped her in the tightest hug that a 9-year-old possibly could … I am immensely thankful to be one of the lucky ones,” Lavandier added.

Other students, while thinking the company could have done a better job with its marketing strategies, said they were not offended by the commercial.

“I don’t know that I would go as far as calling it offensive, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a good way to portray a commercial,” Marcus Angstadt, a finance major, said.

Angstad added that he does not think that the company purposely tried to offend anyone with the spot and that the right thing to do was to forgive and not dwell on the past.

Lisa Romeo, a pre-nursing major, agreed.

“I don’t really find it offensive. I just think it’s an odd way to portray it… They just didn’t take it seriously,” she said.

It was a sentiment shared by Randy Llerena, an information technology major.

“I don’t think they meant to dishonor people. I think they just made a stupid commercial … But I can understand why they wouldn’t be easily forgiven,” he said.

The company is donating 30 percent of its sales this weekend to a 9/11 foundation, an action some students said is the right way to start ameliorating the situation.