I saw another one of those patriotic ads ("Freedom. Appreciate It. Cherish It. Protect It.") and finally got around to looking up that mysterious organization behind the ads, the Ad Council. It turns out they are the same people who brought us "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," and other memorable public service messages. They call this their "Campaign for Freedom." Who knew? Not me.
What troubles me about their ads is the fact that I didn't know who they were and particularly, for what they stood. I'm all for patriotism, but these ads aren't just about patriotism. They have a significant slant to them--namely, watch out for Big Brother. Now Big Brother is certainly unAmerican, but the message becomes considerably less scary when we know that it shares a cubbyhole with Smokey the Bear. That is to say, it is one thing when the people who tell me to "Take a Bite Out of Crime" ask me to watch out for Big Brother and quite another thing when the ACLU does. In the latter case, I'm looking in the rear view mirror for Ashcroft being closer than he appears.
Why isn't the Ad Council more active about publicizing who they are? The success of their public service ads shows they are perfectly capable of conveying a message and making it stick. I can't see what they have to gain from remaining in the shadows. Maybe it's because they don't know what they stand for. Their mission "is to identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make a measurable difference in our society." I get nothing from that. In fact, I even feel dumber.