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Video: The Advertising Council and Autism Speaks Launch New PSAs to Raise Awareness of Autism

NEW YORK, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The Advertising Council, in partnership with Autism Speaks, announced today the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring professional golfer Ernie Els, and his six year old son, Ben, designed to raise awareness about autism and to urge parents to learn the early warning signs of this developmental disorder, now diagnosed in one in every 150 children.

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Created pro bono by BBDO New York, the new multimedia campaign includes television, radio and print PSAs contrasting the odds Els has overcome on the road to an enormously successful golf career -- highlighted by winning the U.S. Open twice -- to the startling 1-in-150 odds of having a child with autism. The ads encourage parents to visit 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. These new ads complement recently released PSAs featuring Grammy Award-winning recording artist Toni Braxton and her son Diezel, who is diagnosed with autism.

Ernie Els is a national spokesperson for Autism Speaks. "Autism is a problem that needs our attention," said Els. "Hopefully more people will get involved and we can start identifying what causes autism and what can be done to help it. The earlier children are diagnosed and early intervention begins, the better chance a child has of a brighter future."

"Our collaboration with the Ad Council has raised awareness about autism to remarkable new levels and helped make autism a primary topic of conversation in this country," said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. "We are incredibly grateful to Ernie Els and his family for agreeing to help spread our message of awareness and the critical importance of early diagnosis and intervention."

The new PSAs build on the success of the first round of the award-winning Autism Awareness campaign which launched in April 2006, and has received more than $178.2 million in donated media. According to Ad Council tracking surveys conducted this past September, 59% of individuals who reported seeing the ads said that autism is "very/somewhat common," and 20% of individuals who are "ad aware" have discussed autism with a doctor or pediatrician in the past six months.

Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. Print advertising will be available in February.

"We are proud to continue our initiative with Autism Speaks with this wonderful series of PSAs designed to encourage parents to learn the early signs of autism," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. "This unique campaign, with its clear and simple message, holds great promise to help parents know the signs of autism."

"The 1 in 150 statistic is a powerful one on its own. Our goal was to couch that startling statistic in a story that pulls a viewer in so that when those odds are revealed, we have his or her full attention. By telling the story from the point of view of Ernie Els' world rather than Ben's, the communication speaks even more strongly to the people who can help with an early diagnosis - the parents," said Susan Credle, Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director of BBDO New York.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism is the fastest- growing developmental disorder in the United States, with life-long consequences for individuals, family, and society. This complex brain disorder inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings, and form relationships with others. Fifteen years ago only 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism; today that rate is 1 in 150.

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, 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. Autism Speaks funds more than $30 million each year in new autism research, in addition to supporting the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Clinical Trials Network, Autism Tissue Program and a range of other scientific and medical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations- sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning, multi- year national public service advertising campaign with the Ad Council. Autism Speaks' family services efforts include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and the distribution of community grants to local service providers. Its government relations division has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the federal government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to require insurers to cover medically- necessary autism therapies. Each year, Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism fundraising events are held in more than 70 cities across the country, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom.

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism, and provides a voice to hundreds of thousands of families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

BBDO New York

BBDO Worldwide is part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) ( In 2008, BBDO was named Network of the Year at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes AND winner of The Gunn Report as the most awarded agency network in the world for the second year in a row. BBDO was also chosen Advertising Network of the Year by Campaign magazine for the second time in the past three years. To top it off, BBDO was ranked #1 by The Big Won as the most awarded global agency network across every marketing communications discipline ranging from above-the-line to below-the-line, online and offline.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council ( 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.

SOURCE The Ad Council
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