Ad Council teams with NFL to raise funds for Africa

WASHINGTON: In an effort to ramp up fundraising efforts, the US Agency for International Development and the Ad Council have launched a new set of PSAs featuring several NFL players as part of FWD, a national public awareness campaign designed to inform Americans of the grave conditions in the Horn of Africa.

WASHINGTON: In an effort to ramp up fundraising efforts, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ad Council have launched a new set of PSAs featuring several NFL players as part of FWD, a national public awareness campaign designed to inform Americans of the grave conditions in the Horn of Africa.

FWD is an acronym for famine, war and drought. The Ad Council will distribute the PSAs to media outlets nationwide. Additional media outreach will take place in the cities that the players' teams are based. These markets include Baltimore; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Jacksonville, FL; Tampa, FL; Green Bay, WI; Phoenix; Chicago; and Indianapolis.

In addition to the traditional PSAs, the campaign includes an extensive social media program via USAID's Facebook and Twitter channels, as well as blogs and other sites. The use of social media is key, considering the campaign's bare-bones budget, said Ellyn Fisher, VP of PR and social media at the Ad Council.

“We're relying on these people to see the materials online and forward them,” she added. “That grassroots way is the best way of getting awareness across the general population.”

The FWD campaign has presented a tough challenge for the AD Council. Most of the initiatives the council works on take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. For the FWD campaign, creative meetings began in August with an October launch date.

“When we learned of the crisis and the lack of awareness among Americans, we knew we needed to get word out as quickly as possible,” Fisher explained.

The PSAs, developed by the Ad Council and volunteer advertising agency R/GA, direct audiences to text GIVE to 777444 to donate $10 to a consortium of humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa, which include the American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, and Save the Children.

Audiences are also directed to visit www.usaid.gov/FWD to find more information about the crisis and a listing of US-funded humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa that are accepting donations to aid in disaster relief.

“Right now, the famine, war, and drought in the Horn of Africa is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, impacting more than 13 million people,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement. “As lives and livelihoods are threatened, USAID and its partners are working to increase awareness of the crisis and urge people to act and support relief efforts.”

Since its launch, the FWD campaign has garnered over 117 million social media fact shares. It has also reached 18 million people on Twitter and 50 million on Facebook. Previous PSAs for the campaign have featured Jill Biden, Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, and Geena Davis.

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