GSD&M teams up with Ad Council for diversity PSAs

AUSTIN, TX: In the spirit of Americans putting aside their

differences for the common good, a PSA has swept the country thanks to

ad agency GSD&M and the Ad Council.

Eleven GSD&M execs found themselves stranded in Maryland on September

11. On the long van trip back to Austin, they pondered ways to help.

They had a plan by the time they reached North Carolina, and they later

enlisted the Ad Council.

The agency recruited volunteers to film Americans of all ages and

ethnicities stating, "I am an American." The tagline "E Pluribus Unum:

Out of many, one" emphasized the country's unified diversity in an

effort to prevent backlash against Arab Americans. A week and a half

later, the PSA was airing across the country.

Unlike other Ad Council campaigns, this did not have a sponsor. GSD&M

paid for what wasn't donated (Kodak threw in the film), and worked with

the Ad Council to spread the word. With many advertisers cutting back,

the PSAs were expected to get heavy play.

To put video into the hands of news directors as well, Washington's Home

Front Communications did a pro-bono VNR featuring GSD&M's spot, an

interview with Ad Council CEO Peggy Conlon, and a PSA with Laura Bush

encouraging parents to talk to their children about the terrorist


Two hundred stations picked up the VNR in just a few days, and footage

was used on all three network morning shows. The campaign got good print

coverage in most major-market dailies as well, including a full-page

spread in Newsday.

"I am an American" also gave the Ad Council a chance to remind reporters

that it was founded two months after Pearl Harbor to communicate

war-related messages like "Loose lips sink ships." Finding its war

footing once again, employees took the unusual step of hand-delivering

the diversity spots to stations across the country.

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