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Ad Council Breaks Fundraising Appeal

The Advertising Council has kicked off a drive for contributions from advertising and marketing executives to help offset the hard costs of its “Campaign for Freedom” public service announcements.

A combination of direct mail, e-mail, online banners, print advertisements and outbound telemarketing will target CEOs, presidents, directors and staff in general advertising, direct marketing and promotional agencies. These executives are being asked to donate anywhere from $5 to $50.

“It's going to be a broad individual appeal for all of us in the advertising industry to support the country during its war on terrorism,” said Julie Dolan, senior vice president of corporate development at the Ad Council, New York. “It was really at the suggestion of Bob Wientzen [president of the Direct Marketing Association], who is on our board of directors.”

The DMA, in turn, recommended Wunderman New York for the job.

A collaborative effort led by BBDO chief Phil Dusenberry, the Ad Council's “Campaign for Freedom” is a series of public service ads designed to inform, involve and inspire Americans to protect the idea of freedom. Every cent collected funds more ads.

Wunderman's creative for this fundraising appeal shows photographs of ad agency executives who have worked on past Ad Council efforts. The creative themes hone in on two lines: “You can work in advertising to protect freedom,” and “Freedom is a really big idea.”

The agency's customer dialogue group will kick off the outbound telemarketing push with calls initially to agency presidents and CEOs. Direct mail kits will be sent to this same audience as part of the educational effort.

As a follow-up to the same C-level audience, calls will be made again for donations and to use the mail kits to rally staff and garner funds for the “Campaign for Freedom.”

Names of the agency executives were pulled from list sources. Wunderman also did some cross-tabbing and manual testing of prospects to update them.

The agency will create the outbound telemarketing messaging and scripting, working closely with Dial America, the vendor making the calls.

Online, a designated site for donations, www.campaignforfreedom.org, went live April 15, ready to respond to the mail and telemarketing efforts. An estimated 6,100 e-mails will also be sent the week of April 29.

Wunderman's effort benefited from help extended by direct marketing firms that donated products, services, time and supplies like printing, envelopes and media production.

The agency most recently was involved in the inbound telemarketing strategy for United Way's televised “America: A Tribute to Heroes” concert to raise funds for victims and families of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The current fundraising appeal would have cost the Ad Council an estimated $500,000 if it was not done pro bono.

“We want the ad community to embrace the power that we have to protect freedom and the power that we have is the voice of speaking to Americans,” said Kara Travia, senior vice president and group account manager at Wunderman.

“But our action is going to be asking the ad community to give donations or hard money, so that [the Ad Council] can produce more advertising that'll be protecting freedom,” Travia said.

The Ad Council has been creating public service announcements since 1942. Among the many characters it created were Smokey Bear; McGruff the Crime Dog; the famed Crying Indian; and Vince and Larry the crash test dummies.

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