Ad Council

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Ad Council
Ad Council logo.svg
Ad Council logo
Tax ID no.13-0417693
Area servedUnited States
ProductsPublic Service Announcements
Key peopleDebra L. Lee, Chairman (BET Networks)
Revenue>$30,000,000 (2012)[1]
Formerly calledThe Advertising Council, War Advertising Council
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Ad Council
Ad Council logo.svg
Ad Council logo
Tax ID no.13-0417693
Area servedUnited States
ProductsPublic Service Announcements
Key peopleDebra L. Lee, Chairman (BET Networks)
Revenue>$30,000,000 (2012)[1]
Formerly calledThe Advertising Council, War Advertising Council

The Advertising Council, commonly known as the Ad Council, is an American non-profit organization that produces, distributes and promotes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations and agencies of the United States government.[2]

The Ad Council partners with advertising agencies who work pro bono to create the public service advertisements on behalf of their campaigns. The organization accepts requests from sponsor institutions for advertising campaigns that focus on particular social issues. To qualify, an issue must be non-partisan (though not necessarily unbiased) and have national relevance.

The Ad Council distributes the advertisements to a network of 33,000[3] media outlets—including broadcast, print, outdoor (i.e. billboards, bus stops), and Internet—who run the ads in donated time and space. Media outlets donate approximately $1.8 billion to Ad Council campaigns annually.[4] If paid for, this amount would make the Ad Council one of the largest advertisers in the country.[5]


The Advertising Council was conceived in 1941, and shortly after, in February 1942, it was incorporated as the War Advertising Council (WAC) for the purpose of mobilizing the advertising industry in support of the war effort. Early campaigns encouraged enlistment to the military, the purchase of war bonds, and conservation of war materials.[6][7]

Before the conclusion of the Second World War President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the Ad Council continue its work during peacetime.[8] The War Advertising Council changed its name to the Advertising Council and shifted its focus to issues such as atomic weapons, world trade and religious tolerance.[9] In 1945, the Ad Council began working with the National Safety Council.[6]

Since FDR, every U.S. president has supported the Ad Council’s work.[10] In the 1950s First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and General Dwight D. Eisenhower appeared in the Ad Council’s anti-communism ads.[11] In the 1980s First Lady Nancy Reagan collaborated with the Ad Council on the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign.[12]

The Ad Council’s first president, Theodore Repplier, assumed leadership of the organization in 1947. Robert Keim succeeded Repplier as Ad Council president from 1966 to 1987, and Ruth Wooden succeeded Keim from 1987 to 1999, when the current president, Peggy Conlon, began her tenure.[9]

The Ad Council celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2012.[13] The Ad Council released an infographic that demonstrated its impact through the years on issues including safety belts, autism, litter reduction, crime and wildfire prevention.[14]

Famous campaigns[edit]

The "We Can Do It!" poster was used by the Ad Council for its 70th anniversary celebration, through a Facebook app called "Rosify Yourself." However, the historic image was not produced by the War Advertising Council.

The Ad Council claimed the 1943 "We Can Do It!" poster (associated with Rosie the Riveter after 1982) was developed by the WAC as part of its "Women in War Jobs" campaign.[6][26] In February 2012 during the Ad Council's 70th anniversary celebration, an interactive application designed by Animax's HelpsGood digital agency was linked to the Ad Council's Facebook page. The Facebook app was called "Rosify Yourself" and it allowed viewers to upload images of their faces to be incorporated into the "We Can Do It!" poster, then saved to be shared with friends. Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon posted her own "Rosified" face on Huffington Post in an article about the Ad Council's past 70 years of public service.[27] The staff of the TV show Today posted two "Rosified" images on their website, using the faces of news anchors Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.[28] However, the now-famous poster was actually produced by an internal Westinghouse corporate program as part of a series of posters shown to Westinghouse employees for two weeks then discarded. It was not produced by the Ad Council nor was it used for recruiting women workers.[29]

Organizations with campaigns done by the Ad Council[edit]

Partnerships with film production companies[edit]

Several recent Ad Council PSA campaigns have involved partnerships with film production companies, including Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Disney. Examples include a partnership with Warner Bros. featuring characters from Where the Wild Things Are in PSAs to counteract childhood obesity,[30] PSAs for child passenger safety featuring clips from Warner Bros.The Wizard of Oz”,[31] a partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment's The Smurfs 2 to encourage children to explore nature,[32] and Disney characters such as Baby Einstein for the LATCH System for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pinocchio and The Jungle Book for MyPyramid, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears for Smokey Bear, Cinderella for child booster seats by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Little Einsteins for art instruction.


Radio show host/Comedian Adam Carolla has many times taken umbrage with the Ad Council on both his show, The Adam Carolla Show and Loveline, stating that they do not provide any value, and that the topics they choose to provide statements on are not real issues that affect Americans, such as airplane turbulence, or are issues that an ad on public radio could not possibly do anything about, such as housing discrimination. Furthermore, Carolla has stated that this valuable time taken up could be used to enlighten Americans on topics such as teen pregnancy and options, or illiteracy, topics that have a much more significant impact on society.[33]

Given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government, it has been labeled by Robert Griffith as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government."[34]

The Ad Council has been further criticized for distracting the public by focusing on individual lifestyle changes, rather than on the need to fix social problems by changing institutions, such as the Ad Council's many corporate sponsors, or the government and military, whose campaigns the Ad Council has also promoted.[35]

Ad Council spots are used to fill unsold air time by stations and networks. Controversial programming, such as Rush Limbaugh's radio show, have unsold air time which are filled with program promos, station plugs and PSAs including Ad Council PSAs. Activists not familiar with the Ad Council's business model have complained to the Ad Council and the subjects of Ad Council PSAs. This led the Ad Council to state that the subjects of Ad Council spots have no control over where those spots air.[36] One of the organizations with Ad Council spots, the AARP, has issued a similar statement.[37]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Ad Council. "About Ad Council". Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "The Story of the Ad Council". Ad Council. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ Robert Jackall and Janice M. Hirota, The Image Makers: Advertising, Public Relations, and the Ethos of Advocacy (University of Chicago, 2000). ISBN 0-226-38916-2. Paperback: ISBN 0-226-38917-0.
  8. ^ "Ad Council". Advertising Age. 
  9. ^ a b "The Story of the Ad Council". 
  10. ^ "Presidential Praise". 60th Anniversary Advertising Supplement. 
  11. ^ "Roosevelt PSA". Advertising Supplement. 
  12. ^ "The Advertising Council". 
  13. ^ NPR. "The Ad Council 70 Years of Good Advice". 
  14. ^ "Ad Council Impact". 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Ad Council. "Our Work - The Classics". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ad Council. "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  19. ^ Ad Council. "Our Work - The Peace Corps". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  20. ^ Ad Council. "Our Work - Drunk Driving". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  21. ^ Ad Council. "Our Work - Domestic Violence". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  22. ^ Ad Council. "Press Release - Autism Speaks New PSAs". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  23. ^ Ad Council. "Our Work - GLSEN". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  24. ^ Ad Council. "Adlibbing - Campbell Ewald". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  25. ^ Ad Council. "Our Work - FWD". Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  26. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Ad Council. Retrieved September 24, 2012. "Working in tandem with the Office of War Information, the Ad Council created campaigns such as Buy War Bonds, Plant Victory Gardens, 'Loose Lips Sink Ships,' and Rosie the Riveter's 'We Can Do it.'" 
  27. ^ Conlon, Peggy (February 13, 2012). "Happy Birthday Ad Council! Celebrating 70 Years of Public Service Advertising". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Plaza sign of the day: Matt as Rosie the Riveter". Today (MSN Allday Today). February 13, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  29. ^ Kimble, James J.; Olson, Lester C. (Winter 2006). "Visual Rhetoric Representing Rosie the Riveter: Myth and Misconception in J. Howard Miller's 'We Can Do It!' Poster". Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9 (4): 533–569.  Also available through Highbeam.
  30. ^ "U.S. Department of Health & Human Services".  Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  31. ^ "Business Wire".  Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  32. ^ "ProductionHub".  Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  33. ^ The Adam Carolla Show, 7-17-2007
  34. ^ Barnhart, Megan (2009). Mariner, Rosemary B.; Piehler, G. Kurt, eds. The Atomic Bomb and American Society: New Perspectives. University of Tennessee Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-57233-648-3. 
  35. ^ Ewall, Mike. "Occupy Earth Day: An Expose of the Corporate Propaganda Systems that Undermine Systemic Change Activism". 
  36. ^
  37. ^

See also[edit]

External links[edit]