When PSA Campaigns Work

Ad Council Chief Peggy Conlon Explores Successful Adoption Effort

By Published on .

Peggy Conlon
Peggy Conlon
It feels good when your campaign hits the mark and delivers for the client. But what could be more satisfying than delivering for society? That's what our volunteer agencies do when they donate their talents to one of our causes. Their creative teams come up with the ideas, images and messages that inspire people to take action -- sometimes just to do simple things that make a big difference, like buckle their seat belts, change a light bulb or be a mentor, and sometimes for things that are much harder. Like the campaign created by Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners that asks for a permanent commitment: adopting a child from foster care. No Ad Council campaign has asked for more.

I know a little bit about this. I'm one of 15 children, four of them adopted. I understand the financial sacrifice; the physical, day-to-day challenges; and the emotional investment needed. Parenting is tough enough, but imagine taking in a child who lacks self-esteem or trust, who doesn't know how to dream, who is afraid to smile -- who has never known love from a parent. Imagine the difference you could make in their life. It's one of the most meaningful things any of us could hope to do.

Thanks to Kirshenbaum Bond's great work, our adoption campaign has helped move thousands of parents to take that step, and make that difference.

We partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids in 2003 with the goal of finding permanent, loving homes for the more than 130,000 children then waiting in the U.S. foster-care system. Based on our research, a key insight emerged to drive the creative: Prospective parents' deepest fear was, "Can I do this?" They needed to be "given permission" to take the next steps, so the campaign's core message became: "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."

Now, nearly six years later, AdoptUsKids has received more than 92,000 calls, more than 13 million visitors to its website and more than $216 million in donated media support. More than 13,300 families have registered with AdoptUsKids and started the adoption process. But most importantly, this campaign has helped find "forever families" for more than 11,000 children who were listed on the AdoptUsKids website. Of those children, 70% were age 9 and older. That is a profound achievement for the campaign, as so many children "age out" of the foster-care system.

And now I have an easy "ask" of you: Help us expand the reach of our adoption campaign by joining us on our new social-media spaces devoted to promoting adoption from foster care. You can become a member of our new Facebook group, follow us on Twitter and join us on YouTube. Just by joining the conversation, you help improve the chances of more children getting into loving homes and having brighter futures. And with your help, we can find "forever families" for every waiting child.

Peggy Conlon is president-CEO of the Ad Council.
Most Popular