Tone-Deaf Billboard Promotes New York-New York Thrill Ride With 9/11 Phrase

A tone-deaf billboard touting a Las Vegas thrill ride could have unintended consequences given its chilling 9/11 connection.

The new billboard for the roller coaster at New York-New York uses what was once an innocuous phrase, but which on 9/11 became associated with the worst terror attack in American history.

The phrase, “Let’s roll.”

Let's Roll billboard

That’s some serious WTF right there.

Use of “Let’s roll” in an advertisement wouldn’t be as problematic were it not for the fact 9/11 is so closely associated with New York City, the theme of the New York-New York resort.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, New York-New York was even home to an impromptu memorial, a “spontaneous shrine,” to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The memorial was outside the hotel, near its replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Items from the memorial were moved to UNLV’s Lied Library in 2016.

“Let’s roll,” of course, became inexorably intertwined with 9/11 when United Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer said it to rally other passengers as they attempted to wrest control of the hijacked plane back from terrorists. The plan ended tragically, but the phrase became a symbol of defiance, bravery and patriotism.

The use of “Let’s roll” on a billboard associated with New York-New York is unfortunate, and it’s hard to believe no one who created or produced the ad made the connection to 9/11, or if they did, chose to use the tagline, anyway.

For those who still remember 9/11 vividly, or lost loved ones in the attacks, it’s more than a gaff, it’s a slap.

Update (5/5/17): MGM Resorts and New York-New York have taken the extraordinary step of saying they’ll remove the offending billboard (at no small expense, by the way). The company said in response to this story, “We intended no connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and our billboard. Any perceived association between the two is something we deeply regret. We are already voluntarily removing the billboard in question and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.”

Much respect and thanks to MGM Resorts and New York-New York for their quick and decisive response to the concerns raised by this inadvertent misstep.

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18 thoughts on “Tone-Deaf Billboard Promotes New York-New York Thrill Ride With 9/11 Phrase

  1. Wayne Savage

    Sorry but I find this post silly. People say “Let’s roll’ everyday period- its a rollercoaster Ad billboard and done quite well. For you to insinuate that this sign is linked to 9/11, offensive or a slap is crazy. Not everything has a secret link message.

    Reply
    1. Martin Veneroso

      Sorry, but I’m with Scott on this one. I follow this blog via the teasers on G+, and I saw the photo of the sign before the headline of the post. Immediately on seeing it, I let out a little “ewww.”

      The “optics” on that sign are just plain bad.

      Reply
      1. Scott Roeben

        Thanks, Martin. I’m not really an overly-sensitive person, but in this case, it definitely tapped into something. It was more cringeworthy than outrage. I appreciate the company responding so quickly by offering to remove the sign.

        Reply
    2. Scott Roeben

      I appreciate the opinion, but there’s a portion of the population that has a very different response to this messaging. They’re not removing it for the people who don’t care, they’re removing it for the people who do.

      Reply
  2. Lois Weintraub Hauck

    I agree with Wayne. I do not remember the phrase “Let’s Roll” being associated with 9/11. Maybe you have to be from New York for it to mean something.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      I was surprised by how few people seem to remember it, but it was very much associated with the flight that went down, and there were even songs about the phrase. Oh, well, they’re taking the sign down, so onward and upward.

      Reply
  3. Paul Farmer

    Sickening. People who remember it are probably the ones who lost loved ones on that day. As soon as I saw that caption, I had a pit in my stomach.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      Thanks, Paul, I feel the same. I know it’s been a few years (and I didn’t lose a loved one), but it still brings up emotions. Kudos to MGM and New York-New York for addressing the issue by removing the billboard.

      Reply
  4. Gal XE Questr

    I don’t associate that phrase with 9/11 at all, either. 9/11 was a work day for me and I remember the long aftermath very well. I also watch documentaries (one was on just last week) and read on the subject. I never took any notice of that particular phrase, although I still choke up over the courage of the passengers of United Flight 93. I would give NYNY the benefit of the doubt.

    Reply
  5. Fenix Alexander

    I’ve never once heard this story. This is something Tumblr would love — the everyday person? Not so much. This is much to do about nothing.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      I was surprised by how many people weren’t aware of that phrase or its association to the attacks. For those who are aware, this, it’s very much a to do.

      Reply
  6. NYNY Vegas

    We intended no connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and our billboard. Any perceived association between the two is something we deeply regret. We are already voluntarily removing the billboard in question and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thank you so much for responding so quickly and decisively to this issue. I know it’s not inexpensive to swap out creative like that, but the sensitivity is very much appreciated. I’m sure others who found the message disconcerting will be thankful as well. What an extraordinary act on the part of your company, and truly admirable.

      Reply
    2. Photoncounter

      Great rollercoaster ride, i used to ride it a couple times a year before you started charging for parking, so no more, sad. The sign I’m sure was an oversight, thanks for removing it.

      We all were affected by 9/11 in different ways. Keep those that were lost in your prayers.

      Reply
  7. Lewmoore

    I was in Nashville and I remember the phrase vividly. It was a hashtag before there was such things, a shorthand phrase to signify resistance to such terrorism. It should not be used in advertising. There’s a Wikipedia for the phrase which chronicles its meaning defined by the period before, and then after, 9/11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let%27s_roll

    Reply
  8. Cassie Tripp

    Unless you are looking for a reason to be upset, there is no reason that a sane person would make that connection. It’s a billboard for an amusement ride. Try not reaching so hard for a reason to be offended. You’re going to pull a muscle.

    Reply

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