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Ad Council Celebrates Seventy Years of Impacting American Lives through Public Service Advertising

“Rosify Yourself” app launched on Facebook in commemoration of milestone anniversary

NEW YORK, February 13, 2012—This February 18th marks The Advertising Council’s seventieth anniversary. Since 1942, the non-profit organization has been creating memorable campaigns aimed at improving the lives of the American people. Ad Council icons and slogans are woven into the very fabric of American culture. With campaigns ranging from "Loose Lips Sink Ships" and “Rosie the Riveter” to Smokey Bear's "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing To Waste" – Ad Council public service advertisements (PSAs) have been raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives for seventy years.

To commemorate this anniversary, the Ad Council has launched a new Facebook app: Rosify Yourself. Using the app, fans of the Ad Council are able to join the ranks of PSA greats by inserting a face photo into the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” ad thus becoming riveters for social change.

Originally founded after the attacks on Pearl Harbor as The War Advertising Council, the organization was initially tasked with rallying support for World War II. Following the success of those efforts, President Franklin Roosevelt asked the Ad Council to continue its work as a peacetime public service organization addressing the social issues of the day. President Truman echoed that request when the war ended, and ever since, the Ad Council has been creating impactful public service ads, many of which have become part of the American vernacular.

“For seventy years, the Ad Council has been leveraging the generosity of the advertising community, inspiring generations of Americans to take action to improve their lives, those of their families and the communities around them. This is worth celebrating,” said Andrew Robertson, President and CEO of BBDO Worldwide and Ad Council Board Chair.

The Ad Council helps drive change on the significant social issues of the day by creating powerful collaborations between sponsor organizations, the nation’s top ad agencies and media partners. The PSAs are created pro bono by partner ad agencies and the Ad Council’s integrated marketing strategy covers the gamut from television and radio to social media. Media partners generously donate over $1.4 billion per year of advertising space to Ad Council campaigns, establishing the organization among the top ten advertisers in the country.

“The Ad Council’s groundbreaking PSAs have shaped our culture, and I am proud of the media community’s continued pro bono commitment to providing the vehicle for getting these critical messages out to the American public,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks and Ad Council Vice Chair.

Now an essential part of any Ad Council campaign, social media allows for greater reach and engagement with the campaigns’ target audiences. Smokey Bear, for example, has over 55,000 Facebook fans and the FWD campaign for the Horn of Africa reached 15 million people in one day on Twitter alone, generating 50 million impressions. And now, with the new Rosify Facebook app, the Ad Council brings another PSA icon into the social media realm.

“The enduring success of the Ad Council is a tribute to the organization’s special ability to bring together individuals and industries for the public good,” said Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer for The Procter & Gamble Company and Ad Council Vice Chair. “By leveraging the expertise of the country’s top marketers and leading global corporations, the Ad Council affects positive change on the most critical social issues facing our country.”

Most importantly, Ad Council campaigns produce measurable results:

  • More than 13,000 children who were once photo listed on  have been placed with permanent families;
  • Littering has been reduced by over 88%;
  • More than $2.2 billion has been raised to help 400,000 minority students graduate from college;
  • The number of acres lost annually to wildfire has decreased from 22 million to an average of 6.5 million;
  • 70% of Americans say that they have personally stopped someone who had been drinking from driving; and
  • Seat belt use has increased from 14% to 85%, saving more than 260,000 lives.

“Whether through traditional media or the latest social media platforms, Ad Council campaigns continue to inspire lasting and positive social change on critical issues facing Americans,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “The Ad Council’s success over the past seventy years is a testament to the collective creativity and generosity of the advertising, media and corporate sectors, and to the incredible power of advertising to impact American lives.”

Today, the Ad Council continues the tradition of addressing America’s most pressing social concerns with over fifty PSA campaigns targeting issues such as childhood obesity, energy efficiency, internet safety, financial literacy, youth reckless driving, cyber bullying and autism awareness, just to name a few. After seventy years, Ad Council campaigns continue to reach millions of Americans creating meaningful social change.

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“The Ad Council never ceases to amaze with its creative and clever approaches to educating the public about CPR and stroke awareness,” said American Heart Association and American Stroke Association CEO Nancy Brown. “For nine years they’ve been helping the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association deliver innovative campaigns that touch people’s lives and inspire them to take meaningful action to safeguard their cardiovascular health.”

According to Janice Maiman, CAE, SVP, Communications and Media Channels of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): “When the Ad Council and the AICPA joined together to help young professionals improve their financial habits through the launch of Feed the Pig, we wanted to start a savings revolution. Over the last six years, savers across the country have told us that they thought about “feeding the pig” at critical decision points, like when considering a major purchase. This tells us we're becoming part of the culture, and helping these individuals take positive steps in their everyday lives to create a more secure financial future. This wouldn't be possible without the Ad Council's long standing expertise in changing behavior.”

According to Dr. John H. Klippel, Arthritis Foundation Chief Executive Officer, “Our partnership with the Ad Council provided a tremendous opportunity to highlight the impact of arthritis in its most common form, osteoarthritis. The depth and breadth of the Ad Council’s reach enabled our organization to amplify and extend our messages, supporting our overarching goal of reducing the impact of the nation’s leading cause of disability.”

“The impact of the Ad Council's work is tremendous. Our partnership has allowed us to reach parents, policymakers and the general public with critical, resonant messages about the scope of the autism health crisis in this country and the need for parents to be informed and empowered,” said Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. “Ad Council campaigns are remarkably effective tools for not only heightening awareness, but also bringing about real change.”

“For the last 10 years the Ad Council has been an invaluable partner to Big Brothers Big Sisters. They have developed integrated, targeted campaigns which have helped us solve some of our most challenging business issues,” said Mack Koonce, Co-Chief Operating Office of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Our first round of volunteer recruitment PSAs launched in 2002, which increased applications to be a mentor by 75% in the first 8 months. Today, our most recent campaign, “Start Something” leveraged both new and traditional media to help reposition our brand and remain leaders in the youth development sector. The Ad Council has helped Big Brothers Big Sisters develop into an organization with over 250,000 volunteers which has benefited countless children nationwide.”

According to Esta Soler, president of Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund: “We have worked with the Ad Council for almost twenty years now having launched the first national campaign to raise awareness against domestic and sexual violence called ‘There’s No Excuse.’ Since then, our partnership has enabled us to access audiences like men and youth, once thought out of reach for an issue like ours. It’s a pleasure to wish the Ad Council a very happy birthday and we look forward to supporting their impact for another seventy years to come.”

According to Craig Fugate, Administrator Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Since the creation of the FEMA Ready Campaign in 2003, the Agency has worked in close partnership with the Ad Council to bring awareness to the importance of emergency preparedness. Together, we have advocated the need to be prepared, and educated Americans on how they can be a part of the team in building a resilient nation to face emergencies and disasters.”

“Feeding America began its Hunger Prevention campaign with the Ad Council in 2008. Since then, we’ve garnered an estimated $125.8 million in donated media and nearly quadrupled our brand awareness,” said Vicki Escarra, President and Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America. “The Ad Council has long been a trusted partner in raising awareness about the greatest social issues of our time. We are grateful to have their partnership in our efforts to draw attention to the millions of Americans struggling with hunger.”

“GLSEN is so pleased to celebrate the Ad Council's anniversary of creating cutting-edge campaigns that shift public conversation,” said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. “‘Think Before You Speak,’ GLSEN's campaign with the Ad Council, targets one of the most disturbing and pervasive issues of our time - anti-LGBT language, language that we know has an alarmingly negative impact on the lives and well-being of youth across the country. This campaign, like so many others the Ad Council has produced, has already made a difference for millions of young people.”

According to Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America: “Ad Council has changed the conversation for an entirely new generation of veterans. When IAVA first partnered on “Alone” in 2008, thousands of new vets were struggling to transition home from these wars. A majority of the country didn’t realize the challenges that these men and women faced. ‘Alone’ is more than an iconic, award-winning PSA. It turned out to be a game-changer, breaking down stigma, directing resources and providing a safe online community for 2.4 million new veterans. Three years have passed since its launch, yet I continue to meet Americans who recognize IAVA because of Ad Council’s groundbreaking initiative. By connecting veterans with each other and with the services they need to take that next step, Ad Council has impacted the lives of countless veterans and their families across the country.”

“America’s homeless dogs and cats got a new lease on life when the Ad Council made shelter pet adoption the focus of a national animal welfare campaign,” said Rich Avanzino, President of Maddie’s Fund. “The Shelter Pet Project was the first ever Ad Council campaign to focus on pets, and it has made a huge lifesaving impact on shelters nationwide. We owe the Ad Council a huge debt of gratitude for helping to end the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in our animal shelters, a social tragedy that’s plagued the nation for more than 150 years.”

According to Administrator David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Ad Council has been a valuable partner in our work.  By helping us spread important safety messages to the public, they help save lives and improve safety on our nation’s roads.”

“With the Ad Council’s support, Americans were encouraged to ‘honor, remember and reunite’ for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and the opening of the 9/11 Memorial,” said Joe Daniels, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. “The Ad Council has been an invaluable partner of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum by helping to spread awareness that brought more than a million people to the Memorial in less than four months of its public opening.” 

According to Joseph F. Bruno, Commissioner, New York City Office of Emergency Management, “We have been privileged to work with the Ad Council since 2008 on the Ready New York Emergency Preparedness Campaign. Through the Ad Council’s hard work and strong support of our preparedness mission, millions of New Yorkers have been exposed to advertisements urging them to develop a personal and family emergency plan. Partnering with the Ad Council has greatly increased the NYC Office of Emergency Management’s reach and allowed us to raise the profile of this important issue for our residents, businesses and visitors.”

“The Ad Council’s track record of success over the past 70 years has been nothing short of breathtaking,” said Sarah Brown, CEO, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “That is one reason why we are so honored to be working with the Ad Council on a new, groundbreaking public service campaign—the first ever to address unplanned pregnancy rates among young women in the U.S.  With the Ad Council’s considerable smarts and stature, we are confident that this bold new public health effort will help rebrand birth control and improve the lives of many, many young women nationwide.”

“The Ad Council has kept Smokey Bear’s fire prevention message fresh, creative and meaningful since 1944,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the US Forest Service. “Today, nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused so it’s more important than ever to spread the word about personal responsibility. Through our partnership with the Ad Council and state forestry agencies, we are making a difference. Happy 70th, Ad Council!”

According to Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, “The Ad Council's provides a vital service to the American people, with an unmatched ability to raise public awareness on issues that are critical to the American people. Through USAID's work with the Ad Council on the FWD campaign for the Horn of Africa, we helped raise awareness of a devastating crisis that left more than 13.3 million people in crisis. That awareness led to actions that improved conditions and saved lives.”

“The Ad Council's adoption from foster care PSAs have helped to convince thousands of families that 'you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.'  Our responsible fatherhood campaign, which concluded this past October, urged men to 'take time to be a dad today,' and reminded fathers that the greatest gift they can give their kids is their time and attention,” said George Sheldon, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. “These campaigns play a critical communication role in our effort to strengthen America's families. We are proud to call the Ad Council our partner.”

Ellyn Fisher
The Ad Council