In the midst of their grieving, families of Cantor Fitzgerald group employees who died in the World Trade Center attacks have found time to respond to appeals for tributes on a designated Web site.
Since CantorFamilies.com went up Oct. 1, family members of 210 out of the 658 who died have submitted materials of their loved ones for the site.
“We gave them mail components to fill out themselves and we gave them the ability to e-mail their materials, and then from there the materials were received and then uploaded on the site,” said Gavin Becker, management supervisor at RappDigital, New York.
RappDigital, a company of direct marketing agency Rapp Collins Worldwide, and its Critical Mass subsidiary created CantorFamilies.com for Cantor, a bond trader.
Cantor, RappDigital and Critical Mass have to walk a fine line. They have to be sensitive to the privacy issue, and at no time should the impression be given that Cantor is capitalizing on the tragedy.
“Ultimately, it'll be interesting to see from a marketing perspective, and this is obviously a delicate issue, how's the brand going to be because of what has occurred and what role do sites such as this one and others that are created around the untoward incidents of 9/11 now play in the formation of the new Cantor Fitzgerald brand,” said J.G. Sandom, vice chairman at RappDigital.
Despite a slowdown in recent weeks, Becker said, Cantor continues to get submissions at 10 per week from families on average. But counting numbers is not the issue.
“There was never any real intention to measure the response,” Becker said. “It's more of a memorial and not a pure marketing tool.”
Created on clean lines and with a memorial candle flame visual, CantorFamilies.com is divided into four sections. The main area is “Employee Tributes.” Here, people can read 250 words on the deceased Cantor, eSpeed Inc. or TradeSpark L.P. employee. A photo of the loved one accompanies the tribute. The public can respond with their thoughts on the person. Names are listed in alphabetical order.
Next of kin family members can create their page in the tribute directory by mailing or e-mailing the information. Posted on the “Add family member” section, details required include the Cantor employee's name, birthdate, department and position, photograph in jpeg format and the 250-word tribute.
Members of the public and friends can contribute to the Cantor Relief Fund by visiting the pertinent section. A link directs visitors to www.cantorrelief.org.
Finally, another tab links to contact information on the Cantor Families Memorial and Cantor Fitzgerald corporate office.
“We designed the site so it can be easily managed by the client on their end, because we expected this to go on long term,” Becker said.
With no advertising or promotion, the site has garnered 3,500 public postings on the individual profiles.
“Really this site is something that is being built by the end users in a real community around the incident,” Sandom said. “This is rather unusual in that we created an environment in which the end users could, in fact, create the content themselves.”
Working on the Cantor memorial site has been a learning experience for RappDigital executives. For one, the agency was developing business rules on the go.
“You couldn't really put all 658 people up [on the site],” Sandom said. “You really had to respect the concerns and interests and well-being of the families. So that was one of our primary rules and directives with this site: to only post those individuals that we've received materials from their family. That was our approval from the family. While there are spaces for 658 on the back end, only those that are provided for by the families are actually activated.”
RappDigital is now designing Cantor's eSpeed.com site. It is working with Cantor agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty to reflect the redefined Cantor brands. A new television, print and online campaign breaks in April.
And for that rebranding exercise, insight from CantorFamilies.com will be valuable.
“Obviously, it would be macabre to try and overly merchandise a site such as this in order to redraft its brand on a very overt scale,” Sandom said. “That would not be appropriate behavior. On the other hand, what has happened is that their brand has now become associated with the American experience of 9/11 and, as a result of that, there's a much greater tapestry now from which to draw or to leverage what attributes are associated with Cantor Fitzgerald in most minds.”