The organization responsible for “Only you can prevent forest fires” and “Friends don't let friends drive drunk,” is working on a new slogan to boost donations for a $100-million national memorial to Martin Luther King Jr.
The Advertising Council,a non-profit organization dedicated to public service advertising,will create a catchy campaign next month – complete with a commercial and Web site – to increase awareness and provide an avenue for new donors.
With $25.5 million in the foundation coffers already and the promise of Ad Council help,the MLK memorial effort is now “fast-tracked,” said LeRoy Lowery,executive director of the foundation.
“It's been a long time coming and it's long overdue,” he said adding that through all the “hoops,bells and whistles,” things are finally taking shape.
Susan Jacobsen,Ad Council's vice president of corporate communications,said The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation Inc. public relations firm made an effort to join forces with Ad Council in late 2002.
Jacobsen said the major success of the World War II Memorial a few years ago featuring commercials with Hollywood's leading man Tom Hanks,led the Ad Council to work with the foundation.
After the WWII Ad Council campaign was launched,people suddenly took an interest and donations soared from $40 to $90 million,Jacobsen said.
“Our goals are to raise awareness about issues and really to inspire people to take action,” she said. “Most advertising companies sell a product,but we campaign for positive social change,and it's been very successful for the past 60 years.”
Ad Council's objective for the MLK memorial campaign is to steer contributors to the revamped Web site via a television commercial.
Jacobsen said the Web site will be up next month and the commercials should be in regular rotation by April.
“We've been on the American radar for years,by looking at our docket of commercials – from Smokey Bear to the keeping America beautiful campaign and even the crash test dummies – it shows the positive effects of our work,” she said.
The memorial was a “vision” of several Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity members who spearheaded the project,but it has now become an international effort,said Harry Johnson,general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
MLK was an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member and the memorial to him has been a “mission” of the fraternity for the past 20 years,said Johnson,who also is chairman of the foundation board of directors.
“Ad Council will help immensely with our overall appeal to the public and bringing in more capital to get this off the ground,” Johnson said. “It was really just the icing on the cake when they agreed to come on board.”
Themes of “the man,the movement and the message” will be incorporated into a 4-acre plot and quotes from some of King's famous speeches will be inscribed chronologically at a larger scale on the walls of the memorial,Lowery said.
But the foundation must have 110 percent of the $100 million to begin actual work on the memorial. The extra 10 percent is for maintenance and upkeep,he said.
The memorial will be situated on the Mall near the Tidal Basin,a lagoon bounded by memorials to Thomas Jefferson,Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Washington Monument.
“We think it's an exceptionally nice site,” Lowery said. “The influence of Dr. King was national and international and the mall has always been the location of memorials to national figures and global conflicts.”
Johnson said he is anticipating an influx of donations after the Ad Council campaign takes off.
“We are so excited because people in the community and fraternity members have been working together on the project,” he said. “This will mean so much to the country and to the world.”