McCann, Ad Council: Trust in Each Other

NEW YORK A solid foundation of trust and respect is behind the Ad Council’s prodigious output of commercials each year, executives of the council and McCann Erickson said at a panel here today.

The talk was part of Advertising Week’s “Dynamic Duos” series, entitled “Uniting Client and Agency—A Weeklong Series Examining Best Practices and Case Studies in Success.”

Peggy Conlon, president of the Ad Council, and Nina DiSesa, chairman and chief creative officer at McCann Erickson, discussed their relationship and showed a reel of Ad Council commercials for various causes. The agency partners with the council to oversee about 40 spots a year made by McCann and other shops.

Highlights included the first “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” ad.

“The strategy was to go after the intervener, rather than the drinker,” recalled DiSesa.

Trust is an important part of their relationship, Conlon and DiSesa related. They cited as an example a Leo Burnett ad shot in Germany to raise awareness about AIDS. The script changed while the agency was in Germany, and DiSesa had to approve it by phone without assembling the Ad Council board, which is customary.

Other spots included an ad for the Department of Health and Human Services targeting obesity. It showed body parts such as love handles and a butt that have fallen off someone following exercise. Ads created after the tragedies of Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina were also presented.

“Good work like this doesn’t happen unless trust is honestly there,” said Conlon.