NEW YORK, NY (December 9, 2008) – The Advertising Council, in partnership with Autism Speaks, announced today the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring Grammy Award-winning recording artist Toni Braxton and her son, Diezel, designed to raise awareness about autism and to urge parents to learn the early warning signs of this developmental disorder, now diagnosed in one in every 150 children. Created pro bono by BBDO New York, the new multimedia campaign includes television and radio PSAs contrasting the long odds Braxton has overcome on the road to an enormously successful recording career – highlighted by six Grammys and multiple platinum albums -- to the startling 1-in-150 odds of having a child with autism. The ads encourage parents to visit www.autismspeaks.org to learn the signs of autism and to find out about early intervention. Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical for children with autism to reach their full potential.
Braxton is a national celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks. Diezel, now five, was diagnosed with autism at age two and a half. “My family and I believe very strongly in the message conveyed in these ads. We've lived it,” said Braxton. “All of us – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and family friends to children – must become familiar with the red flags for autism. The earlier children are diagnosed and early intervention begins, the better chance a child has of a brighter future.”
“Our partnership with the Ad Council has already resulted in a remarkable increase in awareness of autism, and we are confident that Toni's star power and her courage in participating in this campaign will lead to even greater success,” said Alison Singer, Executive Vice President of Communications and Awareness for Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization.
The new PSAs build on the success of the first round of the award-winning Autism Awareness campaign which launched in April 2006, and has received more than $160 million in donated media. According to Ad Council tracking surveys conducted this past September, 59% of individuals who reported seeing the ads said that autism is “very/somewhat common,” and 20% of individuals who are “ad aware” have discussed autism with a doctor or pediatrician in the past six months.
The new television PSAs are being distributed to more than 2,000 media outlets nationwide this week. New radio PSAs will be distributed next week to 11,000 stations. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. Print advertising will be available in February.
“We are proud to continue our initiative with Autism Speaks with this wonderful series of PSAs designed to encourage parents to learn the early signs of autism,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. “This unique campaign, with its clear and simple message, holds great promise to help parents know the signs of autism.”
“The 1 in 150 statistic is a powerful one on its own. Our goal was to couch that startling statistic in a story that pulls a viewer in so that when those odds are revealed, we have his or her full attention. By telling the story from the point of view of Toni Braxton's world rather than Diezel's, the communication speaks even more strongly to the people who can help with an early diagnosis—the parents,” said Susan Credle, Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director of BBDO New York
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 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. Fifteen years ago only 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism; today that rate is 1 in 150.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks 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 www.autismspeaks.org
About BBDO New York
BBDO Worldwide is part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com). In 2008, BBDO was named Network of the Year at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes AND winner of The Gunn Report as the most awarded agency network in the world for the second year in a row. BBDO was also chosen Advertising Network of the Year by Campaign magazine for the second time in the past three years. To top it off, BBDO was ranked #1 by The Big Won as the most awarded global agency network across every marketing communications discipline ranging from above-the-line to below-the-line, online and offline.
About The Advertising Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.