Ad Council seeks PR firm in push for healthy living

NEW YORK: The Ad Council, in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is in search of a PR agency to assist with a national campaign to promote healthier lifestyles. An RFP for the first year of the effort has been sent out to 15 different agencies.

NEW YORK: The Ad Council, in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is in search of a PR agency to assist with a national campaign to promote healthier lifestyles. An RFP for the first year of the effort has been sent out to 15 different agencies.

"We are trying to make PR more of a standard with all of our campaigns," explained Susan Jacobsen, VP of corporate communications for the Ad Council. "But because we're often dealing with nonprofits, budgets are limited."

Typically, PR for Ad Council campaigns is handled in-house, but HHS' involvement has provided funds that will allow for external assistance.

The initiative is centered on a series of PSAs created pro bono by McCann-Erickson. It focuses on fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention - specifically type II diabetes. In coordination with wherever the PSAs appear, the selected agency will be responsible for handling print, radio, and television media relations.

Ellyn Fisher, manager of corporate communications for the Ad Council, called the initiative "multi-targeted," but noted that concentrated outreach to Hispanic and African-American audiences would be involved.

Although it is a comprehensive effort, Jacobsen said obesity prevention would be a large component of the effort. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 61% of Americans are overweight or obese, and that the obesity rate has doubled since 1980. The epidemic causes 300,000 deaths annually, and related chronic conditions like diabetes cause another 200,000 deaths per year.

The chosen firm is expected to begin work by mid-May, in preparation for the fall 2003 launch of the campaign.

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