Ad Council Taps Rich Media E-Mail

A made-for-television PSA celebrating American diversity will be winding up in the email inboxes of more than a million Internet users, through efforts by the Ad Council and two New York-based vendors.

The public service announcement, a television spot developed by Omnicom-owned GSD&M, shows people of many different ages, races and religions saying “I am an American.” The ad ran on major television networks, and now will be re-purposed into streaming video for email.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Ad Council and several special interest groups have rolled out online PSAs urging disaster-relief support and tolerance. At the height of the crisis, many online publishers stripped out paid ads in favor of links or PSAs to relief organizations.

But the effort marks the first time that the Ad Council — which has been running PSAs since its founding in 1942 as the War Advertising Council — has used email, much less rich media email.

“As with all of our campaigns, the goal is to make sure the message reaches as many Americans as possible,” said Ad Council vice president Susan Jacobsen. “We’re all aware of the tremendous power of email as a communications tool today. helloNetwork’s generous offer to distribute the ‘I am an American’ PSAs via email, pro bono, ensured that the message would work its way across the nation and into the homes and offices of Americans everywhere.”

Using helloNetwork’s Java-based technology, video will be streamed in when an email is opened, without the need of special players or plug-ins. The email also includes “send to a friend” buttons.

“We are pleased to be able to donate our technology and assist the Ad Council in their efforts to promote diversity and culture in the United States,” said helloNetwork chief executive Joe Bianco. “Since the advertisement was encoded using helloNetwork’s streaming media platform, the Ad Council will have the broadest possible reach in their email campaign to Americans.”

Meanwhile, email marketer NetCreations, a unit of Italian advertising and marketing firm SEAT Pagine Gialle, donated more than a million double-opt-in email addresses to the campaign — lists worth about $100,000.

“We were contacted by helloNetworks, who we’d worked with in the past … and this seemed like a great opportunity to get involved,” said NetCreations’ vice president of sales, Tim Skennion. “We’ve worked with the Red Cross and other groups in the past, so it seemed like a perfect fit.”

Added NetCreations president and chief operating officer Michael Mayor, “E-mail knows no racial or religious boundaries so it’s the perfect platform for launching the Ad Council campaign … We are honored to donate our opt-in lists to this important effort.”

Last month, NetCreations and several other prominent email marketers got together to create opt-in lists to be donated to the relief effort.

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