- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Ad Council, which produces public service announcements about issues ranging from emergency preparedness to obesity prevention, received a record-breaking $1.7 billion in donated media time and space last year.

That is a 33 percent increase over 2003 and the seventh straight year the Ad Council campaigns have received more than $1 billion in donated media.

“This is an opportunity for [media companies] to demonstrate that they care about the community,” said Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive officer of the Ad Council, a private, nonprofit group based in New York that has produced thousands of public service campaigns in its 63-year history.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness campaign received the most donated media last year, garnering more than $199 million. Obesity prevention for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had nearly $110 million in donated media.

Radio remained the biggest supporter of the Ad Council’s campaigns, donating $952 million in airtime last year — a 65 percent increase over 2003.

Television support dropped by about 9 percent but remained the second-largest contributor, donating a total of $333 million in airtime.

Ms. Conlon said the decrease in television airtime is a result of the increased competition for ratings. Networks, for instance, use more airtime to promote their own programs and air more corporate-branded public service announcements.

Ms. Conlon credits the Ad Council’s overall success this past year to the adoption of a new media outreach strategy, which included securing commitments from media outlets in advance, as well as increasing presence in local markets.

The upfront media commitments contributed more than $250 million to the total donated media in 2004. This year, the Ad Council already has secured more than $470 million in donated time for 2005.

Opening new doors

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration (WMATA) has narrowed its search for an ad agency to four finalists.

The contenders are incumbent LM&O; Advertising in Arlington, Williams Whittle in Alexandria, MDB Communications in the District and Siddall Inc. in Richmond, sources said.

WMATA is looking for an agency to handle advertising and marketing for three years, with two renewable one-year options. The contract is valued at $9.37 million.

WMATA officials heard presentations from the agencies this month, and expect to make a decision in early June.

LM&O; Advertising, which has had the account since 2000, is responsible for WMATA’s “open doors” campaign that has promoted the transit system as more than just a mode of transportation during rush hour.

New wins

• The Bomstein Agency of the District has been hired by the Rockville-based Public Health Service Federal Credit Union to create an advertising and public relations campaign.

• Hinge Inc., a brand identity firm in Reston, has been hired by two new clients: Bowman Consulting Group, an engineering, planning and surveying firm in Chantilly, and NATCO Furniture, an office furniture company in Lanham.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other Monday.

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