Ad Council

only you


The Ad Council is an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including non-profit organizations and agencies of the United States government. The Advertising Council generally does not produce public service advertisements itself, rather, it acts as a coordinator and distributor.

The Advertising Council accepts requests from sponsor organizations for advertising campaigns that focus on particular social issues. To qualify, an issue must be non-partisan (though not necessarily unbiased) and have national relevance. The Advertising Council then assigns each campaign to a volunteer advertising agency that produces the actual advertisements. Finally, the Advertising Council distributes the finished advertisements to media outlets.

The Advertising Council was was incorporated in 1942  as The War Advertising Council for the purpose of mobilizing the advertising industry in support of the war effort. Early campaigns encouraged the purchase of war bonds and conservation of war materials. A notable Ad Council campaign was ‘Rosie the Riveter.’ The Smokey Bear campaign was created in 1944 to educate Americans about the harm wildfires could cause the war effort, and the danger that the Japanese might deliberately start forest fires by shelling the West Coast of the United States. It was 1947 when the iconic Smokey Bear phrase was finally coined: ‘Remember…only YOU can prevent forest fires!’

Other famous Ad Council campaigns include: ‘Crying Indian’ anti-pollution campaign for Keep America Beautiful, created in 1973; the United Negro College Fund campaign, with its slogan ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste,’ in 1972; the McGruff campaign with its slogan ‘Take a bite out of crime’ for the National Crime Prevention Council (in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice), in 1978; ‘Friends don’t let friends drive drunk’ campaign for the U.S. Department of Transportation until 2005; Vince and Larry, the Crash Test Dummies in 1985; and the ‘I am an American’ a campaign launched in wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack emphasizing the diversity of America. The ad features people of many ethnicities looking in the camera and simply saying, ‘I am an American.’

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