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Public Service

The advertising industry is engaged in countless campaigns and programs in the public service realm, often executed on a "pro bono" basis. Across America, from the most localized, grass-roots efforts to the largest-scale national campaigns in support of efforts such as tsunami relief, those in the industry give generously of their time and talent.

Highlighted here is the work of two of the most prominent industry organizations serving the public: The Advertising Council and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The Advertising Council


From "Loose Lips Sink Ships" to "I am an American," the Ad Council has been raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives since 1942. The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization and the leading producer of public service advertisements (PSAs) in the United States. Throughout its history, the organization has had a positive impact on generations of Americans, and its campaigns have mirrored and influenced the important social issues facing the country during the last six decades.

The Ad Council was founded as The War Advertising Council shortly after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and was charged with rallying support for World War II. Following the success of public service advertising campaigns including "Loose Lips Sink Ships" and "Rosie the Riveter," President Roosevelt asked the Ad Council to continue as a peacetime public service organization to address the social issues of the day. President Truman echoed that request when the war ended and, ever since, the Ad Council has been creating public service ads, many of which have become part of the American vernacular.


Today, the Ad Council's mission remains the same: To identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make a measurable difference in society. The organization is a collaboration of advertisers, advertising agencies and the media, all volunteering their time, talent and resources to help address critically important social issues. Advertising agencies from across the nation create the ads pro bono; corporations contribute expertise and financial support; the media contributes advertising space and airtime.

The Ad Council's full-time staff of 85 coordinates the efforts of more than 40 volunteer agencies plus numerous campaign advisors from the industry, secures media partnerships to extend the reach of the campaigns, coordinates public relations activities on behalf of the organization and its campaigns, and conducts research to measure each campaign's effectiveness.

The Ad Council also works closely with its volunteers to create meaningful and effective public service campaigns. The group includes a Board of Directors comprised of 95 media, advertising and corporate business executives and an advisory committee of volunteers from diverse fields such as education, the arts, labor, healthcare and civic associations. Other voluntary committees include the Media Advisory Committee, Research Committee and Campaign Review Committee, which are all made up of leaders in their respective fields who have committed to "giving back" through public service.

Within the volunteer advertising agencies, public service campaigns are handled in the same manner as with a for-profit client. The core group handling the campaign may consist of up to 30 people representing the full cross-section of functions required to create advertising; e.g., market research, copywriting, art direction, production, media and account management.

The finished PSAs are then distributed to more than 28,000 media outlets nationwide which donate space in magazines and newspapers, the business press, outdoor and transit, time on radio, network television and cable stations, as well as placement with interactive media and other new technologies, such as palm pilots, cell phones, plasma screens in movie theater lobbies, elevators and stores. Most PSAs offer a means for immediate response through toll-free numbers or websites.

The Ad Council is currently running more than 50 major campaigns and remains the largest producer of public service advertising in the United States. Each year, the media donate hundreds of millions of dollars in time and space for the Ad Council's ads. In fact, last year marked the seventh consecutive year that the Ad Council surpassed $1 billion in donated media.


The Ad Council's Campaign for Freedom, an unprecedented volunteer effort by the advertising industry, is an initiative designed to create PSAs that will inform, involve and inspire Americans to celebrate their freedom. Just as in 1942 when the organization mobilized the ad industry's power to help our nation's war effort, immediately following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, advertising's leaders met and reaffirmed that the Ad Council would marshal the industry's talent in America's war on terrorism.

Early messages included "I am an American" which celebrated the country's extraordinary diversity, and another, featuring First Lady Laura Bush, encouraged parents to talk to their kids about the tragedies. Subsequent PSAs, including "Main Street" and "Read This Ad or Don't" focused on America's freedom.

According to research conducted by the Ad Council, while Americans acknowledge the importance of being aware of and appreciative of America's freedoms, they also say that "freedom" is not top-of-mind as they go about their daily lives. Officially launched as the Campaign for Freedom on July 1, 2002, the PSAs seek to inform, involve and inspire all Americans to appreciate, cherish and protect their freedoms.
A second round of work for the campaign launched in September 2003 to coincide with the second anniversary of the tragedies.

The PSAs featured testimonials from immigrants and continued to inspire Americans to celebrate freedom. The current phase of work, which launched in 2004, focuses on civic engagement by encouraging Americans to engage in everyday activities that express their freedom in action. The PSAs were created by graduate students from the Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter.


The Ad Council is the embodiment of the creativity and generosity of the advertising, media and corporate sectors, and its work during the past sixty years, including the current docket of critically important issues, is a testament to the power of advertising to improve lives and impact social change in America.

Through public service advertising, the Ad Council has presented issues and ideas to Americans that were rarely, if ever, discussed openly. For example, the Ad Council was the first organization to use the word "condom" when it did so in an AIDS Prevention advertisement. Other groundbreaking Ad Council campaigns have addressed topics such as venereal disease, child abuse and mental health.

The Ad Council has created some of America's best-known icons, including Smokey Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog, as well as memorable slogans such as "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste." Most importantly, Ad Council campaigns have produced measurable results. Addressing issues ranging from protecting the environment to education and drug prevention, the results of Ad Council campaigns prove the power of public service to create widespread behavioral and attitudinal change.


Big Brothers Big Sisters (Mentoring)
Visits to the campaign's website (www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org) tripled in the first four months of the Mentoring campaign. In the first six months, there were 30,000 calls to the toll-fee number, and in the first eight months, applications to be a mentor increased by 75%.

Crime Prevention: National Crime Prevention Council
As a result of the campaign featuring "McGruff the Crime Dog," three out of four Americans believe they can personally do things to reduce crime and more than 20 million Americans belong to Neighborhood Watch groups. Celebrating his 25th birthday in 2005, McGruff has become a valuable weapon for police departments in delivering crime prevention tips.

Drunk Driving Prevention
The "Friends Don't Let Friends" campaign changed societal norms. After the launch the phrase "One more for the road" was rarely uttered and the term "designated driver" became a part of the American vocabulary. With the help of the campaign, the proportion of drunk driving fatalities dropped from 60% in 1982 to about 45% today. Also, 62% of Americans said that they have tried to stop someone from driving drunk.

Forest Fire Prevention -- Smokey Bear
Since Smokey Bear and his famous warning, "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," were introduced to America in 1944, the number of acres lost annually to forest fires has been reduced from 22 million to 8.4 million. The longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history, Smokey Bear turned 60 in August.

Seat Belt Education
Since Vince & Larry, the Crash Test Dummies, were introduced to the American public in 1985, seat belt usage has increased from 14% to 79% in 2003, the highest percentage in U.S. history, saving an estimated 85,000 lives. According to NHTSA estimates, this seat belt use reduces costs to society by $3.2 billion.

Terrorism Preparedness (Homeland Security)
In only its first year, the campaign encouraged many Americans to take simple steps to prepare for a potential terrorist attack. Recent tracking research found that people were significantly more likely to have: stocked emergency supplies: 28%-40%, called a toll-free number or visited a website to find relevant information: 5%-10% and created a family emergency plan (parents): 17%-27%.

Also, in the first 10 months, the campaign website, www.ready.gov, received more than 1.7 billion hits, including an estimated 18 million unique visitors; and more than 3 million "Ready" informational brochures were distributed.

United Negro College Fund
This campaign, featuring the tagline "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," has helped raise more than $2 billion for the United Negro College Fund and has helped to graduate more than 350,000 minority students from college since 1972.


Ad Council campaigns target specific groups as well as the general population. The current docket addresses a variety of the nation's most pressing social concerns. Following is a sampling of just a few of the issues that the organization is committed to addressing.

Each year, 300,000 children in this country are placed in foster care. While about 60% of these children will be returned to their parents, the other 40% remain in the system. The majority of these children are minorities, with older African American boys waiting the longest for adoption. In an effort to increase awareness of the need to provide loving, permanent homes for children in the foster care system, the Ad Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families and the Collaboration to AdoptUSkids, recently launched a new Foster Adoption campaign. The national multi-media campaign issues a national call to action for adults to adopt children. Created pro bono by kirshenbaum bond + partners, the humorous and heart warming television radio, print and Internet PSAs communicate to prospective parents that they don't have to be perfect to be a parent.

Blood Donation
Each year, five million Americans need a life saving blood transfusion and 38,000 units of blood are needed daily in this country. About 60% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but only 5% do. Blood has a shelf life of only 42 days and adults who donate blood do so every two months (or 56 days). As more donor restrictions are implemented and the population ages, the country could lose more and more willing donors, which could cause an even greater threat to our national blood supply.

In an unprecedented partnership with the nation's leading blood donation groups - AABB, America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross - the Ad Council recently launched a campaign to raise awareness among young adults, ages 17-24, about the importance of and need for blood donation to foster a new generation of lifelong donors. Created pro bono by Euro RSCG Worldwide New York, the PSAs are fast paced, edgy and are based on the insight that young adults truly want to make a difference. The ads show how difficult it can be for one person to change the world, but that donating blood is an easy way to make a real difference. They direct young adults to visit a new, comprehensive website, www.bloodsaves.com, where they can learn more about the need for a robust blood supply and get information and resources to help them donate blood in their community.

Disease Prevention
Each year, one and a half million people die from diseases largely attributable to their lifestyles - cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, which represent nearly two out of every three deaths in the U.S. Many women are not aware that there are simple behavioral changes that can greatly reduce their risk of contracting these diseases, including eating right and maintaining a healthy weight, getting active, stopping (or not starting) smoking, and seeing a doctor regularly for check ups.

In an unprecedented partnership with the nation's leading health groups - American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association - the Ad Council recently launched a national, multi-media campaign to motivate women to make healthy lifestyle choices, which can help prevent these fatal diseases. Created pro bono by Publicis New York, the compelling ads demonstrate to women that they should take the same daily precautions to prevent disease as they take to protect themselves from perceived dangers in the outside world. The empowering ads seek to motivate women to make positive changes to their unhealthy lifestyles, which can add years to their lives.

Obesity Prevention
Almost two-thirds (64%) of American adults are either overweight or obese and the obesity rate has increased by more than 60% over the last 10 years. Obesity is the 2nd leading cause of preventable deaths in America and a recent study found that poor diet and physical inactivity might soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death in the U.S. Many diseases, including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, can be prevented through moderate changes to diet and exercise habits. The Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services launched a new Obesity Prevention campaign to inspire all Americans to develop healthy lifestyles to prevent obesity and its resulting health risks through increased physical activity and healthier eating.

Created pro bono by McCann Erickson New York, the new campaign focuses on the power of "small steps" which can go a long way to creating a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk for disease. The empowering campaign, which includes general audience, African-American and Hispanic-targeted advertising, uses humor and the idea of lost fat to inspire overweight adults to incorporate small steps into their hectic lives. All of the PSAs direct audiences to visit www.smallstep.gov, a new comprehensive, interactive and user-friendly website, to find out what they can do to get started.

Online Sexual Exploitation
Of the estimated 24 million children who currently use the Internet in the U.S., one in five has received an unwanted sexual solicitation and only one in four of these victims told a parent, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study. The Internet allows child predators to contact their victims with perceived anonymity and to perpetrate crimes against children. In an effort to raise awareness of the prevalence of online sexual exploitation and help parents and teens protect against online sexual predators, the Ad Council and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children launched a new campaign in May. The campaign is the first national, multi-media advertising campaign to address this critical issue. The PSAs target parents of children, particularly girls under the age of 18. A second phase, scheduled to launch in 2005, will be directed at teenage girls to empower them to protect themselves.

Created pro bono by Merkley + Partners, the PSAs use different strategies to bring the issue onto parents' radar. One TV spot shows how sexual predators target kids in places where parents think they are safest: at home. Another spot reveals how easy it is for predators to misrepresent their identity. A third spot, clues parents in to the lingo that their kids use online. A list of acronyms like LMIRL (let's meet in real life) make parents aware of how little they really know about what their kids are saying online and provides a way for them to initiate a discussion about online safety with their children.

The television and radio spots end with a voiceover by actress Jamie Lee Curtis and the tagline, "HDOP: Help Delete Online Predators." All of the PSAs direct parents to visit www.cybertipline.com or to call 1-800-THE-LOST to learn how to prevent, detect and report online sexual exploitation.

Tsunami Relief
Most recently, the Ad Council has responded to the tsunami crisis in South Asia. Within two days of discussing a possible Ad Council response to the disaster, taping began. Created pro bono by McCann Erickson, the ads feature former Presidents George H. W. Bush and William Clinton, who urge Americans to make donations toward relief efforts in the region. Appealing to the generosity of the American public, Mr. Clinton exclaims, "No one can change what happened. But we can all change what happens next." The campaign is expected to yield substantial results.

Note: See an Ad Council 60 Year Retrospective in the aef.com Exhibits section.


The Partnership for a Drug-Free America®
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America® is a non-profit coalition of professionals from the communications industry. Through its national drug-education advertising campaign and other forms of media communication, the Partnership exists to reduce illicit drug use in America. For more information on the Partnership and its programs, visit the Partnership's Web site at www.drugfree.org.


With deep roots in the advertising industry, the Partnership is comprised of a small staff and hundreds of volunteers from the communications industry who create and disseminate the Partnership's work. The organization began in 1986 with seed money provided by the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The Partnership receives major funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and support from more than 200 corporations and companies. The Partnership is strictly non-partisan and accepts no funding from manufacturers of alcohol and/or tobacco products. All actors in Partnership ads appear pro bono through the generosity of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

National research suggests that the Partnership's national advertising campaign - the largest public service campaign in the history of advertising - has played a contributing role in reducing overall drug use in America. Independent studies and expert interpretation of drug trends support its contributions. In 2003, RoperASW, a leading global marketing research and consulting firm, surveyed 7,084 teens across the country (margin of error +/- 1.5%) and found that compared to teens who see or hear anti-drug ads less than once a week, those who get a daily exposure to such messages are 38 percent less likely to have tried methamphetamine; 31 percent less likely to have tried crack/cocaine; and 29 percent less likely to have tried Ecstasy. They also were 14 percent less likely to have tried marijuana and eight percent less likely to have tried any illicit drug at all. The New York Times has described the Partnership as "one of the most effective drug-education groups in the U.S."

In addition to its work on the national level, the Partnership's State/City Alliance Program supports the Partnership's mission at the local level. Working with state and city governments and locally based drug-prevention organizations, the Partnership provides - at no cost - the guidance, on-site technical assistance and creative materials necessary to shape anti-substance abuse media campaigns tailored to the needs and activities of any given state or city. The State/City Alliance Program reaches 88 percent of all U.S. television households.

The Partnership participates in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, coordinated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in cooperation with the Partnership. While this effort is multi-faceted, at the core of the initiative is a paid advertising program featuring messages created by the Partnership. The organization donates all advertising to the effort pro bono and receives no federal funding for its role in the campaign.

Partnership Attitude Tracking Study
The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) is the Partnership's unique contribution to the field of substance-abuse prevention. This nationally projectable study is the largest body of consumer-based research on drugs in the nation, tracking trends in drug use and drug-related attitudes that drive drug-consumption trends. It also provides insight into the minds of young people and helps ensure drug-education messages will reach and resonate with their intended audiences. Since the 1993 study, PATS has been conducted in schools and in homes by RoperASW (formerly Audits & Surveys Worldwide, Inc.). PATS is funded, in part, by an organizational grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Ecstasy Education Campaign
In February 2002, the Partnership launched the first national education effort specifically targeting the drug Ecstasy. The campaign was a response to data from PATS showing that while overall drug use among teens was down and holding compared to recent years, the number of teens who reported trying Ecstasy, a psycho-active drug with both amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties, climbed 71 percent from 1999 to 2001. The campaign included broadcast and print messages and a special "microsite" within the Partnership's main Web site. Data from the 2003 PATS reported a noteworthy reversal in teenagers using Ecstasy - a 25 percent reduction between 2001 and 2003. Further, data found Ecstasy use significantly lower among teenagers frequently exposed to anti-drug advertising, and anti-drug attitudes among these teens.

Meth and Ecstasy Health Education Campaign
In June 2003, the Partnership launched a two-year pilot media campaign, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), aimed at speaking to parents and teens about the health consequences of methamphetamine and Ecstasy. The campaign includes print, radio and television messages, and a public relations campaign using AAP member pediatricians as expert spokespersons on the dangers of drug abuse. It was tested in Phoenix, Arizona and St. Louis, Missouri in cooperation with the statewide chapters of the AAP and research will be used to track changes in strong anti-drug attitudes and behaviors in order to measure campaign effectiveness.

Check Yourself™ Campaign
Despite the best prevention efforts, some teens will choose to try drugs and alcohol. The Check YourselfTM campaign was designed to lead 15- to 18-year-old recreational drug users to revisit their relationships with their substances of choice and ultimately curtail their use.

In June 2004, the Partnership redesigned and added resources to its CheckYourself.com Web site. CheckYourself.com allows visitors to examine their own use of drugs and alcohol. Through interactive surveys, the site allows visitors to examine their lifestyle patterns. Visitors can also read first-person accounts and communicate with other teens. Over 1,739 visitors have registered on the site and many more browse the site each year.

Early Intervention Campaign
In January of 2004, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced a new campaign that harnesses the power of peers and parents to stop youth drug use. The "Early Intervention" initiative features a new ad campaign that debuted on Super Bowl Sunday and also includes new print, radio, and online content. The initiative takes a new approach to reducing teen substance abuse by focusing on those closest to youth drug users. The new ads aimed at parents were created by Foote Cone & Belding, through the Partnership. Ads directed at teens were created by Ogilvy and Mather.

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