Ever since people started living in society -meaning by this, trading and living in villas- we have developed a need for government. Government is a set of rules, a guarantee of safety and fair dealing within the people. Of course, no one would doubt it, some forms of government fail at providing for their citizens; specially governments who turn into despotic and absolutist systems. Now in any democracy or even in a dictatorship, and even within the frontiers of the most perfect form of government, who gets the job done? The people, at least when it comes to safety.
This ad is one of many that encourage citizens to become watch dogs, “if you see something, say something.” Why? Well, loud and clear, because “New Yorkers keep New York safe.” And certainly, New Yorkers keep New York safe. It is no secret that only about 50,000 employees in the New York Police Department cannot quite keep in control a metropolis of almost 9 million people. People need to take action so that the police can do their part.
In a very professional compositions, denoting seriousness and necessity, this ad shows a set of 32 faces that supposedly represent what a New Yorker is. A New Yorker is mostly white, Hispanic, African American or Asian (44%, 27%, 24% and 11% of the population respectively). These are the audience.
The copy that stands out is “New Yorkers keep New York safe.” Imagine this ad did not feature the first sentence at all, would it make a difference? No! The meaning would still be clear; New Yorkers know who they are, they could see themselves reflected on those faces, they know what they are talking about. However, people get tired of just reading “if you see something, say something.” The people need something more than that, the need an emotional connection between themselves and the city. They need to know it, “I keep the city safe, I am a New Yorker.” Yes, maybe you already make a connection; it’s a flag, an identity, like any form of government in the world. New Yorkers are the government of New York, because the government is by the people.
One would think we should have this down by now, after so much terrorism and crime. Nevertheless, we need to be constantly reminded that safety is not an easy thing to establish. We live in a dangerous world, we are constantly fighting for survival, we are constantly helping others survive (taxes, keeping the system up…) When we are in New York, a target of terrorism and crime, we all are New Yorkers; when there is a threat the people come together and form government.