The Ad Council, is an American nonprofit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations and agencies of the United States government.
The Ad Council partners with advertising agencies who work pro bono to create the public service advertisements on behalf of their campaigns. The organization accepts requests from sponsor institutions 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 Ad Council distributes the advertisements to a network of 33,000 media outlets—including broadcast, print, outdoor (i.e. billboards, bus stops), and Internet—who run the ads in donated time and space. Media outlets donate approximately $1.8 billion to Ad Council campaigns annually. If paid for, this amount would make the Ad Council one of the largest advertisers in the country.
Every advertiser aspires to "break through the clutter." Few do it with the force of a thousand Marie Kondos like Gillette and its now famous "We Believe" spot.
As a dovetail to Ed Martin's choice for Program of the Year, I offer a new category for an annual accolade: My choice for Industry Event of the Year was the Ad Council annual dinner. This year -- the 65th Annual Public Service Award night -- had more than 1,500 media, marketing, ad and tech execs milling around in their finery. But the outfits did not out-wow the humbling appearances by honorees, creators and the "real people" featured in the always-moving Ad Council campaigns. Of those, I found Shine, a non-profit featuring students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, particularly moving.
Since first launching in 2015, the Ad Council’s impactful Love Has No Labels campaign has shifted people’s attitudes and behaviors around diversity and inclusion, and the videos have garnered over 350 million views in 240 countries around the world. The campaign’s latest iteration, Rising, is a powerfully moving short film directed by Game of Thrones’ David Nutter and co-written by Lena Waithe, creator of Showtime’s The Chi and an Emmy-winning writer for Netflix’s Master of None, and Azia Squire, writer and producer of We, the Band. The dramatic piece was created pro bono by R/GA with Great Guns Production. Featuring gripping visuals and evocative music, the film highlights the tale of a diverse community -- people of different races, religions, abilities, sexual orientations, political ideoloies, etc. -- coming together in the immediate aftermath of a massive storm and challenging viewers to think about why it takes a disaster to bring us together.