New PSAs: 'FWD' Awareness About the Horn of Africa Crisis

Ad Council Effort Encourages People to 'Do More Than Donate'

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A new PSA campaign to spread awareness of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is being launched today by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ad Council. The multimedia campaign, created by R/GA, is called "FWD"-- for famine, war and drought -- to encourage people to "FWD" the message to their friends.

The effort asks Americans to support humanitarian organizations with relief operations and to learn more about solutions through President Obama's Feed the Future global initiative to combat hunger and provide food security.

The Horn of Africa is suffering from the worst drought it's seen in six decades, which combined with other factors has resulted in famine. More than 13 million people across the eastern Horn of Africa now need emergency assistance to survive, and tens of thousands of people have died. However, according to a national survey released today by the Ad Council and conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,226 U.S. adults age 18 and older in September, 52% of the general public say that they have not seen, heard, or read anything about the drought and famine.

TV spots and Web ads feature Dr. Jill Biden and actors Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, Geena Davis and Chanel Iman. The campaign will also be engaging high-profile athletes and celebrity chefs such as Lance Armstrong and Anthony Bourdain. The effort includes a social media program through USAID's Facebook and Twitter channels, plus blogs and other websites.

The campaign asks viewers to text "Give" to 777444 to donate $10 to a consortium of humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa, comprised of American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, World Vision and World Food Program USA. Audiences are also directed to for more information about the crisis and a listing of U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations working in the Horn of Africa.

The campaign is also being supported by corporate, media and nongovernmental organizations, including Cargill, General Mills and PepsiCo. General Mills will match the first 2,000 text donations that come through the FWD campaign.

"When the Ad Council made us aware of this initiative, we knew we needed to help in any way possible. … We had two challenges: help people understand what is a complicated crisis and, then, since it's getting lost in the news cycle, have them spread the word to their own networks," said Nick Law, chief creative officer, North America, R/GA in announcing the effort. "The brand we designed says it all: FWD explains the problem -- famine, war and drought-- and describes the action -- forward the facts."

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