Ad Council Campaign for Freedom

The Ad Council in 2001 worked with the American advertising industry to prepare pro bono advertising that would help Americans recover their sense of equilibrium in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Campaign for Freedom, launched on July 4, 2002, explored the theme of freedom in a number of ways: positing an America in which people could be arrested for asking about the wrong book at a public library; portraying the real-life stories of people who fled repressive countries to come to America; and celebrating America’s religious and cultural inclusiveness.

Freedom Appreciate It

DeVito/Verdi produced four of the initial eight television spots and supplied the campaign’s tag line: “Freedom. Appreciate it. Cherish it. Protect it.”

As a Christian congregation finishes worship the pastor reminds members to be careful as they go home.

A young man in a library discovers that the books he was looking for have been removed. The librarian asks him to provide his personal details before security officers take him away for questioning.

A man in a diner is hushed by his friends when he starts to complain about the government.

‘Main Street USA”, set in Bayonne, New Jersey, brings out the impact of the September 11 attacks. “On September 11th, terrorists tried to change America forever.” After a fade to black the same street was shown again, this time adorned with a multitude of American flags, sometimes two or three to a house. ‘‘Well, they succeeded,” notes the voice-over.

Three commercials produced by Lowe, New York, dealt with the concepts of freedom of choice and freedom of opportunity. “Change” showed students in a multicultural classroom studying the civil-rights movement. “Choice” reminded Americans about the abundance of choices they enjoy at the supermarket.

“Arrest”, a spot by DDB, showed police pulling over a young man, dragging him out of his car, and arresting him for carrying newspapers. “Imagine America without freedom.”

A full page newspaper ad, developed by TBWA\Chiat\Day, showed a tattered America flag with the text, “Read this ad. Or, don’t. An exercise in freedom. By deciding to continue reading, you’ve just demonstrated a key American freedom—choice. And should you choose to turn the page, take a nap or go dye your hair blue, that’s cool too.”

Ad Council Read This Ad

The second phase of the Campaign for Freedom was launched in September 2003, more than a year after the initial wave of PSAs, this time coinciding with the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks. ‘‘Main Street USA’’ was brought back, and three new television and radio spots and a pair of print ads were distributed as well.

TBWA\Chiat\Day brought out two more print ads in the second phase of the Campaign for Freedom, reminding readers of the USA’s immigrant experience. “A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Are Walking Down the Street. (There’s no punch line.) What do you get when you mix Christianity, Judaism and Islam? In many parts of the world it’s a recipe for disaster. Yet in America, it’s a formula that’s endured for over 200 years.”

Ad Council A Priest A Rabbi and an Imam
Ad Council We Have Nothing To Eat

Three television spots, produced by Ogilvy & Mather, were presented as documentary-style interviews of three immigrants and their stories of fleeing oppression to come to America. Tom Tor told how he escaped the killing fields of Cambodia. Eugenia Dallas talks about fleeing the Soviet Union during the time of Stalin. Yuri Gevorigian talks about escaping torture in Armenia.

Campaign for Freedom Credits

The Ad Council Campaign for Freedom ads were developed at DeVito/Verdi, New York, by creative director Sal DeVito, copywriter Scott Kaplan, art director Chris Turner, agency producer Barbara Michelson.

Filming was shot by director Bob Giraldi via CaseGiraldi.

The “Read This Ad”, “Priest, Rabbi and Imam” and “Nothing To Eat” print advertisements were developed at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles, by creative director Duncan Milner, art director Liz Soares, copywriter Chris Adams, and photographer Mark Laita, Getty Images.