Officials for the venerable 60-year-old group said they were surprised to find themselves on a list of 31 stores, public relations shops, government agencies, global marketers and international organizations being targeted by the group Global Action Against Capitalism.
Demonstrators have already started to gather in Washington to protest meetings by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund starting Friday. The various groups oppose "corporate greed," globalization, war and energy companies, and hope to abolish the two international financial organizations they call "institutions of global capitalism."
The Ad Council shares offices in Washington with the American Association of Advertising Agencies in building that also has a Starbucks and McDonald's Corp.'s Chipotle's, two of the many chains targeted by the protesters.
The Ad Council is the arm of the ad industry that coordinates public service announcements, its most notable efforts being the ad campaigns "Take a Bite out of Crime"; "Loose Lips Might Sink Ships"; "Buckle Up for Safety"; and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" and the Forest Fire Prevention campaigns starring Smokey Bear. The council recently rolled out spots promoting freedom.
"I was really surprised [they] chose the Ad Council," said Paula Veale, executive vice president of corporate communications. "It must have been based on our name, not what we do."
Dick O'brien, executive vice president of 4A's, said that after the lists was discovered, all the tenants in the building decided it would be best to close tomorrow.
"This building is a triple target. We e-mailed back and forth and all decided individually to close down," he said.
Among those on the Global Action Against Capitalism's list are fast-food chains McDonald's and Yum Brands' Taco Bell; retailer the Gap; public relations firms Hill and Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller; and media outlets AOL Time Warner's CNN; Walt Disney Co.'s ABC; and The Washington Post.