Ad Council Turns to Fundraising

The Advertising Council is soliciting donations from ad-agency executives and corporations to finance a PSA campaign for the war on terrorism. The effort is the 60-year-old council’s first fundraising push.

The group’s pres ident and CEO, Peggy Conlon, said it hopes to raise $3 million to create about six PSAs in a “campaign for freedom.” The work is meant to inspire U.S. citizens to support and defend the American way of life [Adweek, Jan. 28].

In an e-mail sent to the heads of 6,200 agencies last week, the council asked for donations from employees. This week, it will follow with a direct marketing campaign from WPP Group’s Wunderman, New York. Production costs for the fund raising effort have been donated by the Direct Marketing Association.

Typically, the Ad Council partners with a client, who pays production costs. However, unlike the council’s effort with the federal USA Freedom Corps, for which the government pays for PSAs, the campaign for freedom effort does not have a sponsor. (The creative for the Freedom Corps effort is handled by The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and BBDO, New York.)

Conlon hopes to raise about $600,000 from agency employees and the rest from corporations. “We have talked about how do we engage people in the industry,” she said. “But we have never had a mechanism to reach out and give every single person in the advertising industry a role.”

The council seeks donated media for the Freedom Corps and campaign for freedom efforts; the trade press gave space for the fund raising project.

This week, shop CEOs will get a 9-by-12 box with the pitch, “How many ad people does it take to protect one big idea? Every last one of us.” Inside, next to photos of agency staffers, the copy reads, “You don’t have to be the President to fight evildoers. You can be a media buyer.” Some boxes use the copy, “You don’t have to be a soldier to fight terrorism. You can be a copywriter.”

Wunderman chief creative officer Joel Sobelson said the creative uses a simple idea to elicit emotion. “The graphics are symbolic of all of us,” he said.

The DMA contributed about $1 million toward printing, production and ad services. “I think the people who work in the industry ought to have their own cause,” said DMA president and CEO Bob Wientzen, an Ad Council board member.

Ten creatives tapped to work on the campaign for freedom have submitted ideas. The Ad Council hopes to distribute it by the summer.