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American Red Cross (1945-1996)

View creativeFor more than 50 years, the American Red Cross worked with the Ad Council on public service advertising campaigns that raised public awareness of the various services provided by the Red Cross. The PSAs helped to recruit blood donors, enlist volunteers, enroll individuals in health and safety courses, and raise funds. View creative

Most importantly, these campaigns produced dramatic results. In 1990, the Red Cross focused its recruitment campaign efforts on young adults. In just one month, the PSAs helped to recruit 30,000 Red Cross volunteers, and, by the end of 1991, young adult involvement in the Red Cross had increased by 37%. In 1986, the Ad Council and the Red Cross, the world's largest supplier of blood and blood products at the time, partnered to launch a campaign to dispel rumors about AIDS transmission.

In addition to helping to recruit volunteers, the Red Cross PSA campaign helped to raise millions of dollars for disaster relief, including funds for victims of Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and for the victims of the African famine in 1985. In fact, the relief campaign for the African famine reached its initial goal of $5 million within a few weeks, finally totaling more than $20 million.

Through the years, many celebrities appeared in Red Cross PSAs, including: Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Glenn Close, Bill Cosby, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Bob Hope, Meryl Streep, and Dionne Warwick among others.

Following the tragedies of September 11th, the Ad Council reached out to the Red Cross, among other non-profit organizations and government agencies, to offer its assistance with crisis-related messages. The Red Cross had important messages for the American public and the Ad Council assisted their efforts by including the spots in a nationwide distribution. Though the American Red Cross campaign ended years earlier, the Ad Council and the Red Cross worked together once again to help Americans recover during a time of crisis.

View historic PSAs:

View commercial View commercial
Bill Cosby (1980) Lucille Ball (1979)

Read additional case histories about American Red Cross campaigns in the In Class channel.




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