Ad Community Offers A Helping Hand

The ad industry quickly responded in the aftermath of the hurricane by offering temporary positions to displaced agency workers, calling for donations for the relief effort and creating public service campaigns.

As just one example of the generosity sparked by the disaster, The Johnson Group, an independent in Chattanooga, Tenn., is offering temporary jobs to as many as six people in the ad business displaced by the hurricane, said partner and ecd Pat Buckley. The offer, which includes free housing in the Chattanooga area, has already been accepted by two, including a media buyer from independent Graham Group in Lafayette, La., he said.

Texas agencies also sought ways to help their neighbors in Louisiana. After a day of brainstorming, Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, approached the Ad Council and the Red Cross with a plan to develop a pro-bono campaign. The PSAs include TV, radio, print and Internet components, the first of which launched Friday. In the TV spot, called “Minus,” a minus sign appears before the words home, electricity, food and water. Featuring the voice and music of New Orleans singer Aaron Neville, the spot directs viewers to the Red Cross Web site, where they can make donations. In addition to its labor for the creative—which was completed in just 36 hours—GSD&M is also covering the production costs.

The Richards Group in Dallas accelerated a PSA already in production and created another in the days after the hurricane. The latter shows scenes of Katrina and has Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones asking for donations to the Salvation Army. It aired on the Texas Stadium screens at the Cowboys-Jacksonville Jaguars game last Thursday. “When you’re dealing with the front end of a catastrophe, things are changing so fast that you need a strong PR effort,” said Jon Lee, head of brand management at Richards.

The Magnet Network, a consortium of ad agencies, asked members for donations and raised $48,000 as of press time Friday. It will distributed by Danny Mitchell, CEO of the Godwin Group in Jackson, Miss., the network’s only agency affected by the storm, said Al Dudreck, Magnet executive director.

Baton Rouge became the hub of relief efforts and a temporary home for many New Orleans area businesses. Branden Lisi, principal at Object 9 in Baton Rouge, said his shop was forming a task force with its client the Greater Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce to gather information regarding what local businesses may need.