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Calls to Action

Ad Council, Autism Speaks Launch New PSAs to Raise Awareness of Autism

NEW YORK, April 26, 2007 – The Advertising Council, in partnership with Autism Speaks announced today the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to raise awareness about autism and to urge parents to learn the signs of this developmental disorder. (Visit our 'Learn the Signs' page to find out more about the campaign. And click here to view the television and print ads.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States, with life-long consequences for individuals, family, and society. This complex brain disorder inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, and form relationships with others. Fourteen years ago only 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism; today that rate is 1 in 150. Despite these epidemic proportions, research shows that many parents of young children have little knowledge about this disorder.

“We are so pleased to continue our partnership with Autism Speaks and BBDO on such an important and critical campaign,” said Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of The Advertising Council. “I am confident that these new PSAs will be as successful as the first round of work has been and with the enormous exposure provided by the media, we will encourage parents to learn the early signs of autism.”

Created pro bono by BBDO New York, the new, multi-media campaign, which includes television, radio, print and internet advertising, aims to motivate parents and caregivers of children aged 0-6 to learn the signs of autism. The new campaign builds on the success of the first round of advertising which launched in April 2006, and received over $31 million in donated media in the first six months of being in the media.

According to Ad Council tracking surveys, as a result of this support 69 percent of individuals who reported seeing the ads said that autism is “very/somewhat common,” versus 49 percent of those who were not aware of the ads. And these “ad aware” parents were also significantly more likely than those not aware of the ads to say they know “a lot” or “some” about autism (52 percent to 38 percent).

Early diagnosis of autism is critical -- kids who start receiving treatment early can experience astounding results,” said Alison Singer, executive vice president for communications and awareness at Autism Speaks. “Together, we will continue to get this important message out to everyone who should hear it.”

The PSAs contrast the odds of many things that parents think about each day – such as the dreams they have for their children and the measures they take to protect them - with the startling odds of a child being diagnosed with autism which are now 1 in 150, according the the CDC release in February 2007. The ads also communicate to parents “you know the odds of autism, now learn the signs”. Viewers are directed to visit to learn the signs of autism and to find out about early intervention.

The new television, radio, print, and web banner PSAs are being distributed to over 28,000 media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is vice chairman and executive officer, General Electric, and chairman, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

BBDO New York

BBDO New York is part of BBDO Worldwide, a global agency network with 316 offices in 77 countries. In 2005, BBDO was named “Agency of the Year” by all of the leading industry trade publications including Ad Age, Adweek and Campaign magazines. In addition, BBDO has been the most awarded agency network in the world for the past seven years, according to The Gunn Report.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit