Brands, nonprofits and government agencies come to the Ad Council for our knowledge, expertise and assistance in communicating the right message by the right messengers through the right channels to ignite public action in this ever-changing climate. The core tenet of our work is and has always been research, as it’s vital to first understand the public’s knowledge and attitudes in order to move them to act.

With the launch of Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI), we are leveraging our insight-driven approach to examine some of the most important social issues of our time.
Signature Public Study

Trusted Messengers Study

When it comes to critical health decisions, or in times of crises like we’ve experienced these last two years, Americans are increasingly placing their trust in a different kind of influencer. Whether they’re leaders in faith, local business, or healthcare, they have the tools to truly change minds and guide decisions. The Ad Council has concrete examples and learnings of how to recruit and leverage these critical voices for social issues like vaccine hesitancy and is ready to provide the new playbook for social influence.
Our Focus
Building upon years of research expertise, ACRI works with brand, corporate and nonprofit partners and clients in four ways:
Past Public Research
In order to help determine what Americans really needed, in real time—and how those needs might change as the pandemic unfolded—the Ad Council began research for the study, Coping with COVID-19: What Americans Need, Feel and Fear About the Coronavirus Pandemic. Through social listening analysis and a survey fielded six times over three months, the Ad Council identified people’s mental, social and economic challenges, to help inform ongoing efforts and make the information available to others who are in a position to help Americans in need during this challenging time.
Because of the current global pandemic and the potential rise in loneliness worldwide, the Ad Council, with support from Beiersdorf, designed a study to understand the current state of loneliness.
October 20, 2020
The Ad Council and Democracy Works joined forces to understand how people in the U.S. view voting—and identify what messaging will influence potential voters to get out and vote.
OUR 2022 RESEARCH AGENDA
WORKFORCE WELLBEING
Even before the pandemic, mental health challenges were on the rise across the country. Unsurprisingly, the uncertainty, isolation of COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened these challenges —and employers are taking note.

Today’s employees are dealing with a host of health challenges: mental health, anxiety, loneliness and isolation, and for some, increases in substance abuse. This research area seeks to understand these challenges in order to provide insights for employers to provide meaningful resources for employee health and wellbeing.
FOOD INSECURITY
As many as one in eight Americans are food insecure. And as the Washington Post wrote in August 2021, “Even a huge increase in food assistance benefits and summer pandemic relief payments may not stave off hunger for millions of Americans.”

This research focus seeks to explore the new face of hunger and those families that are dipping below the poverty line due to COVID to understand who is facing food insecurity so corporations, and government agencies can effectively reach and help them.
UNITY, MISINFORMATION & POLARIZATION
America is plagued by misinformation and polarization, exacerbated by the 2020 US elections… and it’s challenging the country’s unity.

It’s time to start talking again. This topic identifies those most susceptible to misinformation and looks at how trusted messengers can minimize the startling trend towards discord and foster more constructive dialogue on today’s hot button issues.
HEALTH ACCESS & EQUITY
The structural barriers that contribute to this country’s health inequities are systemic and longstanding—and the divide continues to deepen. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare these health injustices, especially the disproportionate impact COVID had on communities of color.

This focus area proposes to unearth the nuances of these barriers—like access, medical bias, lack of transportation/infrastructure, mistrust —so brands, organizations and government entities can design initiatives that are rooted in the community and can drive systemic change.
PUBLIC TRUST IN HEALTH & SCIENCE INSTITUTIONS
Public institutions in America have a trust problem. For example, a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released in May 2021 shows only about a half of Americans trust the CDC, four in ten trust state and local health departments, and only about a third trust the FDA and NIH.

Given the pandemic, widespread vaccine hesitancy and ever-deepening polarization, it’s critical that the country rebuild trust in public institutions. This focus area will examine why distrust is so prevalent, and what organizations can do to rebuild the public’s trust and faith in these organizations.
WORKFORCE REENTRY
Formerly incarcerated people have long had a higher rate of unemployment than the general population. According to pre-pandemic research from the Prison Policy Institute, a staggering 27 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed, which has likely increased amid COVID.

This research focus will examine the training and re-skilling needs for formerly incarcerated individuals as well as the stigma and bias they face from the public and employers.
RACIAL INEQUALITY
America has a long, bleak history of racial inequity—and it’s still alive and painfully persistent today. How can we help more Americans fully understand the deep, systemic and current causes of racism today? And what can we all do about it? Recent research reveals the opportunity and challenge before us: Fifty-six percent of white Americans say the country has made a lot of progress on racial issues, but just 20% of Black Americans say the same.

This research area proposes to help Americans understand structural racism in our country. Specifically, we want to explore the historical and current causes of racism, how it’s impacting our society today, and what individuals and organizations can do to meaningfully address these persistent inequities.

CREATIVITY. CAUSES. AND YOU.

Together we can do so much. Let’s talk about how we can partner to help change the world.

ACRI Research Leadership