Ad Council seeks partners for $50 million initiative

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The Advertising Council is sizing up partners to kick in up to $50 million over the next decade to support a new initiative.

The group has tapped non-profit fund-raiser Community Counseling Services to gauge support for five potential programs now being presented to ad agencies, marketers and others to judge interest, said Peggy Conlon, president-CEO. Ms. Conlon declined to discuss specifics of the five initiatives.

The Ad Council, which currently has a $35 million annual operating budget, supplies many of the public service messages for the industry, working with ad agencies and media to develop campaigns and to procure media time.

With a single exception-a campaign conducted after the Sept. 11 attack-all the Ad Council's campaigns have only been produced after a service group or government agency agreed to pay production costs of public service messages. That procedure ensures the Ad Council itself doesn't get stuck with the bill for production and can use its funding to instead distribute messages and promote their airing and the ad industry's role in airing them, Ms. Conlon said. But the result occasionally slows down the ad industry's response to emerging social issues.

"There are times when we see an issue, but until we go out and find a sponsor, nothing can be produced," she said. The organization is studying whether it should "have a fund to respond to something we saw as an important social issue."

Ms. Conlon said the idea to examine seeking funds was part of a recent strategic plan the Ad Council developed with consultant McKinsey & Co.

The Ad Council is still early in the process of determining reaction and could go forward with one, two or none of the initiatives depending on level of interest.

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