Within days of the September 11 attacks on the United States, ads addressing the national crisis began appearing in newspapers across the nation, and to a lesser extent, on television. Most were sponsored by large corporations that replaced their traditional product and retail advertising with messages expressing grief and patriotic resolve. For Americans accustomed to incessant product advertising, these ads stood out. Considered "institutional" or "public relations" advertising, the ads' apparent premise was to build public goodwill, not to expand corporate coffers. A content analysis of fiftyfive September 11-related ads (Kinnick 2003) found common themes in message and imagery that suggest a unique subset of institutional advertising-advertising that responds to the rare crisis of truly national proportions. But to what extent were these September 11 ads idiosyncratic-and to what extent might they have a recurring form in future national crises? Genre studies suggest a theoretical and methodological framework for answering these questions.