How the Ad Council Turned the PSA Into a Powerful Engine for Social Change

75 years of the most memorable messages in advertising

In February of 1942, the heads of America’s big ad agencies found themselves summoned to Washington, D.C. for a closed-door meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the attack on Pearl Harbor barely two months past, the United States was mobilizing for war. The men in pinstripe suits—among them James Webb Young of J. Walter Thompson—were too old to don uniforms, but that’s not what FDR had in mind anyway.