Companies Rally Around Ad Council for COVID-19 Campaigns

Donated media and pro bono efforts are spiking as brands come together to get urgent messaging out

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks in an Ad Council PSA.Ad Council

In partnership with the Ad Council, a slew of media organizations, social platforms, ad tech companies, agencies and influencers are coming together to slow the spread of COVID-19 via pro bono campaigns and donated ad space.

The efforts are being supported by the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The hope is to extend the reach and impact of COVID-19 messaging as the virus continues to spread throughout the U.S.

According to the Ad Council, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Group Nine Media, Google, Pluto TV, Pinterest, TikTok, WarnerMedia and YouTube, as well as ad tech firms Xandr and TrueX, are providing “significant donated media space to run and amplify campaign assets, getting urgent messaging to audiences nationwide on the platforms they use daily.”

It is unclear what exactly the assets look like at this time, although the Ad Council said that a PSA created in partnership with full-service agency Pereira O’Dell will be supported by donated media from Facebook, Google and YouTube. The PSA will star singer Noah Cyrus, rapper Taylor Bennet and actress Michelle Williams. Giannina Gibelli, star of Netflix show Love is Blind, will also make an appearance, in addition to Shubham Goel and Joey Sasso from Netflix reality series The Circle.

Another PSA, which has been released by the Ad Council and is running on Apple News, features Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, encouraging viewers to practice social distancing. The PSA also features White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.

IPG’s ad tech Cadreon, in addition to programmatic firms The Trade Desk and EMX, are building private marketplaces for publishers to donate media inventory. Data and analytics firms Acxiom, Crossix and Fluent are donating audience targeting segments through LiveRamp to “reach millennials and those who are at higher risk for COVID-19.”

DoubleVerify and IAS, both of which help brands prevent their ads from showing up in places where they don’t want them to appear, are using their technology “to serve campaign messages across a breadth of publisher sites.”

A number of other companies are helping out in various ways: Pandora, for instance, is working with its internal creative consultancy to create custom audio assets that will run across its platform as well as SoundCloud. The assets will be made available for other media organizations to download.

Snapchat is featuring content from #AloneTogether, a PSA campaign recently developed by ViacomCBS brands including MTV and Comedy Central, throughout its platform. Snapchat will also debut two custom filters that encourage people to stay connected while they stay home and practice social distancing.

Verizon Media, which owns HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch and other media brands, is “donating substantial media and creating custom #AloneTogether content to be shared across social media and its ecosystem.”

Twitter is developing a custom emoji for the #AloneTogether hashtag, while Reddit is creating an interactive, custom campaign that will be supported by “significant donated media,” including its new Trending Takeover ad unit.

“We have seen the media industry come together time and time again to address the most critical issues facing our country, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, said in a statement. “These digital and technology platforms have generously donated their talents and reach to empower millions of Americans to stay safe, informed and connected.”

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