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Ad Council and U.S. Army Launch Interactive Campaign to Give Teens a "Boost" to Stay in School


PSA program features teens documenting their struggles to stay in school and a new virtual community in which users can give friends a “boost” online

Tuesday.—The Advertising Council and the U.S. Army joined today to launch a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to encourage students to graduate high school. Created pro bono by JWT New York, the new “Boost” campaign is an extension of the Ad Council’s and the U.S. Army’s high school drop out prevention initiative, which launched in 2000. The new PSAs feature stories of real teens throughout the country documenting their struggles to stay in high school and urge audiences to provide support by giving them a “boost.”

In an effort to extend the reach of the campaign and create more opportunities for at-risk teens to get the “boost” they need, the Ad Council and JWT are leveraging the leading social network websites (My Space and Facebook) and integrating user-generated content sites, such as YouTube, and mobile communication. Developed in partnership with Mekanism, the new digital strategies will enable users to give students throughout the country a virtual “boost” of encouragement to stay in school. All of the campaign’s interactive elements connect to the campaign website,

“I am thrilled to announce this groundbreaking effort developed on behalf of our High School Dropout Prevention campaign. The virtual community that we have created is a targeted and effective way to engage those who can make a real impact in supporting at-risk youth throughout the country,” according to Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council.

Every 29 seconds, another student gives up on school, resulting in one million American students dropping out every year. (The Urban Institute, 2005)

In response to the national dropout crisis, the Ad Council and the U.S. Army partnered on this campaign to communicate the importance of staying in school and obtaining a high school diploma. The new television, radio, outdoor and Internet advertising aims to facilitate a national virtual conversation about staying and school, and to support and encourage those who may be at risk of dropping out.

“Boost” features ten at-risk high school seniors, the “Class of 08,” who record their struggles to stay in school via monthly documentary-style films of themselves and their friends/family using disposable video cameras. The PSAs encourage both parents and peers to visit to provide a boost to the Class of 08. The PSAs are also available in Spanish.

“The exciting thing about the Boost campaign is that it isn’t JWT talking to teens - it’s teens talking to each other,” said Margie Chidley, Copywriter at JWT. “We’re reaching teens by keeping up with all of the ways they connect with each other, while giving them the tools to support each other. So we’re driving our message home in a way that’s real and authentic, and not acting as an authority figure telling them what to do.”

The new PSAs were distributed to stations nationwide last week. All of the new ads will air and run in advertising time and space that will be donated by the media. Since its launch in November 2000, the High School Dropout Prevention campaign has received over $400 million in donated time and space from the media and it is frequently ranked among the top ten supported Ad Council campaigns.
U.S. Army

Education is a top-priority public service issue for the US Army. In 2000, they partnered with the Ad Council to start “Operation Graduation.” This was a national campaign to motivate and encourage students to graduate high school. In 2006, the Ad Council and the US Army launched Boost, a new approach to this dropout prevention campaign. Boost encourages teens to talk to their friends about staying in school, while providing their parents with tools and advice. All in an effort to give our teens the community of support they need to tackle one of the most important obstacles of their lives: graduation. To find out more about the US Army go to

JWT ranks as the largest advertising agency brand in the United States and as the fourth-largest full-service network in the world. Its parent company is WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY). JWT’s heritage of brand-building excellence extends back to 1864, making us the world’s oldest advertising agency brand. In 1939, JWT pioneered the first national consumer research panel. In 1988, we created the first research study of consumer lifestyles, “Life Stages.” We believe in being anthropologists first, advertising people second.

The Ad Council

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit

Contact Information:

U.S. Army Press Office:
Naomi Verdugo, 703-693-2456

Ad Council Press Office:

J. Walter Thompson:
Erin Johnson


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