Press Release

The Advertising Council and Autism Speaks Launch New PSAs in Award-Winning Campaign to Raise Awareness of Autism

Renowned Fashion Designer Tommy Hilfiger and NASCAR Driver Jamie McMurray Featured in Two Innovative Animated TV Ads

NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 7, 2011) – The Advertising Council, in partnership with the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization Autism Speaks, announced today the launch of innovative public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring renowned fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and his niece who has autism. The PSAs are designed to help raise awareness about autism and to encourage the public to learn the early warning signs of a disorder that now affects one in every 110 American children.

The new PSAs, created pro bono by BBDO, take viewers on a journey through Hilfiger and McMurray’s lives, highlighting the extraordinary statistical odds they each overcame on the road to their highly successful careers and end with the startling one in 110 odds of having a child diagnosed with autism. Though the worlds of fashion and motorsports are intense, the films are intimate and modest. To capture their stories, BBDO created intricate handmade paper animation models that were brought to life by 3D computer animation.

“The storybook feeling we created is designed to lull the viewer into a world where anything, however unlikely, is a possibility, before stunning them with the probability of a child being born with autism,” said Andrew Robertson, president and CEO of BBDO Worldwide.

The new PSAs encourage parents to visit autismspeaks.org/signs to learn the signs of autism and to find out about early intervention. Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical for children with autism to reach their full potential.

“I am proud and honored to partner with Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to the research and family support needed to treat and prevent autism,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “My family has been affected by autism, so I understand the challenges many families face today. I hope that in working with Autism Speaks, I am able to let other families know that they are not alone and that there is hope.”

“Whether you are someone who has been personally touched by autism or not, it is important to learn and be aware of the early warning signs,” said Jamie McMurray. “I am honored to join Autism Speaks in their continued effort to raise awareness and offer hope to those individuals and families affected by autism.”

The Advertising Council is distributing the new PSAs to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide including television, radio, print and online. The ads will air and run in advertising time and space entirely donated by the media.

The campaign is part of an ongoing partnership between Autism Speaks and the Advertising Council. It builds on the success of the award-winning “Learn the Signs” autism awareness campaign that has already received over $300 million in donated media and earned numerous awards, including an Effie Award for advertising effectiveness in 2008, a Silver Telly in 2009, a Silver Addy and Gold Ogilvy in 2011. Furthermore, since the campaign initially launched in 2006, the percentage of parents of young children who have spoken with their doctor about autism increased from 8 percent to 17 percent.

“These unique and powerful PSAs are certain to have an impact on the general public. Tommy and Jamie’s generous support in these ads will undoubtedly help us reach new audiences with this award-winning awareness campaign,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. “The Advertising Council and BBDO continue to be outstanding partners whose passion and commitment to our cause have been critical to the tremendous success of this campaign.”

“We are proud to continue our efforts with Autism Speaks to encourage all Americans to learn the signs of autism,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO, The Ad Council. “We’re grateful to Tommy Hilfiger and Jamie McMurray for all of their support in helping to communicate the significance of early intervention for children with autism.”

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $300 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Grandparent’s Guide to Autism, and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 29 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 10 states including New York. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, EMI Group Global Ltd., and AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital. Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.  In the past couple of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University and UMass Medical School.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

About BBDO
BBDO’s mantra is “The Work. The Work. The Work.” Every day, people in 288 offices in 80 countries work job by job and client by client, to create and deliver the world’s most compelling commercial content. Today, BBDO is recognized as both the world’s most creative and effective agency network.  For the past five years, BBDO has been Network of the Year at Cannes as well as the world's most awarded agency network in The Gunn Report.  In addition, BBDO is the number one ranked network across all marketing communication platforms in The Big Won report.  And Effie Worldwide named BBDO the world’s most Effective Agency Network in its inaugural Effie Effectiveness Index released this year.  BBDO is part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE-OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), a leading global marketing and corporate communications company.

Contact

Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
Jaclyn Benedetto
212.843.9397
jbenedetto@rubenstein.com

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