Public service announcement

A public service announcement (PSA) is a message in the public interest disseminated without charge, with the objective of raising awareness of, and changing public attitudes and behavior towards, a social issue. In the UK, they are generally called 'public information films' (PIFs); in Hong Kong, they are known as 'announcements in the public interest' ('APIs').


The earliest public service announcements (in the form of moving pictures) were made before and during the Second World War years in both the UK and the US.

In the UK, amateur actor Richard Massingham set up Public Relationship Films Ltd in 1938 as a specialist agency for producing short educational films for the public. In the films, he typically played a bumbling character who was slightly more stupid than average, and often explained the message of the film through demonstrating the risks if it was ignored. The films covered topics such as how to cross the road, how to prevent the spread of diseases, how to swim and how to drive without causing the road to be unsafe for other users. During the war, he was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to produce films for the war effort.[1] Massingham began to produce longer films, for both private companies and the Government, after the War.

In the US, the Ad Council (initially called the War Advertising Council) was set up in 1941, when America entered World War II.[2] It began implementing on a massive scale the idea of using advertising to influence American society on a range of fronts. Its first campaigns focused on the country's needs during World War II, such as encouraging the American public to invest their savings in government bonds.

After the war, PSAs were used to educate the public on a broader range of important issues. In the UK, they were produced for the Central Office of Information (COI), and again by private contractors, which were usually small film companies, such as Richard Taylor Cartoons. They were supplied to broadcasters free of charge for them to use whenever they wished. Their usefulness as a cost-free means to fill the gaps in fixed-duration commercial breaks left by unsold advertising airtime led to their being used regularly and extensively in the 60s, 70s and much of the 80s, and consequently, within both the COI and broadcasting companies, they were typically known as "fillers". They are still being produced, although the vastly reduced need for broadcasters to turn to third-party filler material to deal with unused airtime during breaks or junctions means they are now only seen rarely.

In the US, the Ad Council expanded its focus to address issues such as forest fires, blood donations and highway safety.[3][4]



The most common topics of PSAs are health and safety, such as the multimedia Emergency Preparedness & Safety Tips On Air and Online (talk radio/blog) campaign.[5][6][7][8] A typical PSA is part of a public awareness campaign to inform or educate the public about an issue such as obesity or compulsive gambling. The range of possible topics has expanded over time.

From time to time a charitable organization enlists the support of a celebrity for a PSA; examples include actress Kathryn Erbe telling people to be green and Crips gang leader Stanley Williams speaking from prison to urge youth not to join gangs. Some PSAs tell people to adopt animals instead of buying them. Protecting our Earth, also known as being green, is another example of a current PSA topic.

Some television shows featuring very special episodes made PSAs after the episodes. For example, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit talked about child abduction in one episode, so it had a PSA about child abduction. Another example is when the original Law & Order did an episode about drunk driving, which had a PSA about drunk driving.

One of the earliest television public service announcements came in the form of Smokey Bear.[9]

During the 1970s, a large number of American cartoon shows contained PSAs at the end of their shows. These may or may not have been relevant to the episode itself. Three of the most widely known are the closing moral segments at the end of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the "Knowing is Half the Battle" epilogues in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and the "Sonic Sez" segments from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Some television PSAs have topics such as on not watching so much television, or not taking fictional stories literally; or about television, movie, or video game ratings. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, environmental–political issues became popular, such as the Turtle Tips or Planeteer Alert.

Public service advertising has become a significant force in changing public attitudes on topics such as drinking and driving, crime abatement and various health/safety issues. While stations have never been mandated by the FCC to use a prescribed number of PSAs, they are required to prove they broadcast in the public interest and PSAs are one of the ways they meet that requirement as part of serving as a "public trustee."[10] Many television affiliates and cable networks employ PSA directors who review all the PSAs provided by nonprofit organizations and choose which ones to schedule.[11]


Public Information Films produced by the Britain's COI covered a wide range of subjects, most related to safety, but also on other subjects, including animal cruelty, environment, crime prevention and voting.

Advertisements produced by companies and private groups, such as the NSPCC's Cartoon Boy, and British Gas' commercials about gas leaks are considered by fans as a form of non-Governmental PIFs.

In other countries

China's first PSAs in 1986 were about saving water and were broadcast on Guiyang television. In Hong Kong, terrestrial television networks have been required since National Day 2004 to preface their main evening news broadcasts with a minute-long announcement in the public interest which plays the Chinese National Anthem in Mandarin over various patriotic montages.[12][16]

Festivals and contests

IAA Responsibility Awards is an annual international festival of public service announcements, held by the International Advertising Association since 2008.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "A Warning to Travellers". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  2. ^ "The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Encyclopedia of Television".
  3. ^ Matters of Choice: Advertising in the Public Interest Archived 2009-02-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Goodrum, Charles & Helen Dalrymple (1990). Advertising in America :the first 200 years. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-1187-1. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  5. ^ "National Safety Month". Retrieved 2010-04-09.
  6. ^ "Flavor Flav Celebrates National Safety Month". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14.
  7. ^ "Lisa Tolliver show notes". Emergency Preparedness and Safety Tips On Air and Online.
  8. ^ "Lisa Tolliver's Show Notes". Lisa Tolliver On Air and Online.
  10. ^ Public Service Announcements, Broadcasters, and the Public Interest: Regulatory Background and the Digital Future Archived 2012-05-09 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Boost your PSA's pickup in one simple step".
  12. ^ Vickers, Edward. "Learning to Love the Motherland: 'National Education' in Post-Retrocession Hong Kong" in Designing History in East Asian Textbooks: Identity Politics and Transnational Aspirations, p. 94. Routledge (Abingdon), 2011. ISBN 9780415602525.
  13. ^ "中国国歌 Chinese National Anthem". Hosted at YouTube, 10 August 2008. Accessed 25 January 2015.
  14. ^ TVB News. 6點半新聞報道 [Liù Diǎn Bàn Xīnwén Bàodào, News at 6:30], 28 June 2009 (better version). Hosted on YouTube, 10 July 2009. Accessed 25 January 2015. (in Chinese) & (in Yue Chinese)
  15. ^ "Chinese National Anthem". YouTube, 9 May 2012.
  16. ^ Examples from 2008,[13] 2009,[14] and 2012.[15]
  17. ^ "IAA Responsibility awards 2010".

External links

Ad Council

The Advertising Council, commonly known as the Ad Council, is an American nonprofit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations and agencies of the United States government.The Ad Council partners with advertising agencies which work pro bono to create the public service advertisements on behalf of their campaigns. The organization accepts requests from sponsor institutions for advertising campaigns that focus on particular social issues. To qualify, an issue must be non-partisan (though not necessarily unbiased) and have national relevance.

The Ad Council distributes the advertisements to a network of 33,000 media outlets—including broadcast, print, outdoor (i.e. billboards, bus stops), and Internet—which run the ads in donated time and space. Media outlets donate approximately $1.8 billion to Ad Council campaigns annually. If paid for, this amount would make the Ad Council one of the largest advertisers in the country.

Central Office of Information

The Central Office of Information (COI) was the UK government's marketing and communications agency. Its Chief Executive reported to the Minister for the Cabinet Office. It was a non-ministerial department, and became an executive agency and a trading fund, recovering its costs from the other departments, executive agencies and publicly funded bodies which used its services.

It was established in 1946 as the successor to the wartime Ministry of Information. It worked with Whitehall departments and public bodies to produce information campaigns on issues that affected the lives of British citizens, from health and education to benefits, rights and welfare.

COI celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 with several events including a film season at the National Film Theatre and a poll to find Britain's favourite public information film on the BBC website.From 2010, governmental spending on marketing fell considerably. This was because of the Coalition Government's policy to support only essential campaigns. As a result, the Government announced that COI would be closed and its remaining functions transferred to the Cabinet Office.The Central Office of Information closed on 30 December 2011.

Clunk Click Every Trip

"Clunk Click Every Trip" is the slogan of a series of British public information films, commencing in the summer of 1970 presented by Shaw Taylor, then in January 1971, starring the now-disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile.

The BBC adapted Savile's slogan for the title of his Saturday night variety show beginning in 1973. The slogan was introduced during the previous campaign, fronted by Shaw Taylor and featuring the slogan "Your seatbelt is their security". However, it was the onomatopoeia used by Taylor to describe the act of closing the door and fastening a seatbelt which proved the most memorable aspect of the campaign, and so it was upgraded to act as the slogan when the films moved into colour.

The advertisements highlighted the dangers of traffic collisions and reminded drivers that the first thing they should do after closing the door ("Clunk") is fasten their seatbelt ("Click"). These advertisements, which included graphic sequences of drivers being thrown through the windscreen and, in one Savile-hosted public service announcement, an image of a disfigured woman who survived such an accident, helped lay the groundwork for compulsory seatbelt use in the front seat of a vehicle, which came into force on 31 January 1983 in the UK, although car manufacturers had been legally obliged to fit front seatbelts since 1965.

Clyde Henry Productions

Clyde Henry Productions is a Canadian film, stop-motion animation, puppetry and illustration firm consisting of Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. Formed in 1997, the team is responsible for the animated shorts Madame Tutli-Putli, winner of the Genie Award for Best Animated Short, and Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life, both co-produced with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).Clyde Henry Productions began by designing puppets and illustrating for various clients, including Vice Magazine, for whom they produce a monthly comic strip called The Untold Tales of Yuri Gagarin. In March 2000, they signed a worldwide representation agreement with Toronto's Spin Productions.They won the Juno Award for Recording Package of the Year in 2016 after working as art directors/designers/illustrators/photographers on the album "Lost Voices" by Esmerine.In 2016, they created two animated vignettes for the NFB satirical public service announcement series, Naked Island.

Cow (public service announcement)

Cow, also titled Only Stwpd Cowz Txt N Drive, is a 30-minute YouTube public service announcement film directed by Peter Watkins-Hughes with assistance from Gwent Police and Tredegar Comprehensive School. The August 2009 film was a co-production by Gwent Police and Tred Films, with special effects by Zipline Creative Limited. The film features original music by Stuart Fox, a composer and sound designer from Gloucester UK. A previous film, "Lucky Luke," was intended to warn about the dangers of joyriding; "Cow" was intended to be a sequel of sorts.The film, using local drama students as actors, tells the story of 17-year-old Cassie "Cow" Cowan (Jenny Davies), who texts and drives and gets into a car accident; her friends Emm and Jules (Amy Ingram and Laura Quantick) are in the vehicle with her. Four people die as a result of Cassie's actions. The police intended for the film to be aired in British schools.The police agency said that it took a "few thousand pounds" to make the film. 300 drama students auditioned for the making of the film.The full PSA is shown to students in the United Kingdom. As of 2009 the PSA had not been aired on television stations in the United States. In 2010 a modified 30-second version of the public service announcement was to begin airing during certain hours in 13 television stations in central and upstate South Carolina.

Eddie Eagle

The Eddie Eagle GunSafe program and its namesake character were developed by the National Rifle Association for children who are generally considered too young to be allowed to handle firearms. While maturity levels vary, the Eddie Eagle program is intended for children of any age from pre-school through third grade.

However, there is evidence that these sorts of programs are not useful in decreasing risky behavior.The NRA encourages parents and other adults to reach out to schools and inform them of the availability of the program. The NRA provides classroom materials for schools and other institutions free of charge.

Hector the Cat

Hector the Cat (also known as Hector Cat, Hector the Road Safety Cat or simply Hector) is a fictional cat and mascot created to aid the teaching of road safety to children in Australia. Educational material relating to the character was developed by the Australian Department of Transport in association with state and territory road authorities. "Hector's road safety song" became well known in Australia when it was shown as a public service announcement on television. The blue and yellow striped cat first appeared on a school calendar in 1971 with a storyline that he had lost eight of his nine lives due to "ignorance of road safety practices". This was followed by a short instructional film. In subsequent years other characters were introduced in calendars, instructional films, and comic books including Millie, his girlfriend (1973), Uncle Tom (1974), Hector and Millie's three kittens (1975) and his space friend Ding Dong (1982).A study in 1978 found that, although children enjoyed the characters and stories, the material had a number of inadequacies. It stressed that road safety research findings and child development theory would need to be considered for any future development.The character is currently used by the Northern Territory Department of Transport to promote road awareness to children. The song "Stop, Look, Listen, Think" is featured in his Road Safety Show.

House Hippo

The house hippo is the subject of a Canadian television public service announcement (PSA) produced by Concerned Children's Advertisers (now known as Companies Committed to Kids) in May 1999.

Know Your Rights

"Know Your Rights" is a song by The Clash. It was released as the first single from the album Combat Rock, three weeks prior to the release of the album.

The song begins with the words "This is a public service announcement...with guitars!" The structure of the song revolves around the rights held by the poor and disenfranchised, in which the speaker of the song, presumably a villainous civil servant (whose identity is assumed in the song by vocalist Joe Strummer), names the three actual rights. At the end, the notion that more rights should be granted is rebuffed by the speaker.

The three are:

"The right not to be killed. Murder is a crime, unless it is done by a policeman, or an aristocrat".

"The right to food money, providing of course, you don't mind a little investigation, humiliation, and, if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation".

"The right to free speech (as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it)".

Michael de Avila

Michael de Avila (also known as Mike D) is an American television personality, filmmaker, and producer from New York, New York. He is the host of the fishing television show Lunkerville, which airs on the World Fishing Network. and NBC Sports Network.Lunkerville is a CINE Golden Eagle award winner and Mike was chosen Viewer Favorite Host in 2004 by Sportsman Channel Viewers. Mike was also featured in a New York Post article in 2007 when he took a reporter fishing in Central Park, New York City.

Mike D is also a filmmaker who has directed two feature-length dramatic films: the theatrically released "Lost Prophet" and the Sundance Channel premiere film "Burnzy's Last Call". In 2001, he and his production company, Rockville Creative, received a National Emmy Award for Best Public Service Announcement Campaign for his work for Maryland Public Television.

Mr. Yuk

Mr. Yuk is a trademarked graphic image, created by UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and widely employed in the United States in labeling of substances that are poisonous if ingested.

NBC Kids

NBC Kids is the name of a former American Saturday morning preschool programming block, which premiered on NBC on July 7, 2012 and ended on September 25, 2016. Sister broadcast network Telemundo airs a version of the block under the "MiTelemundo" brand, which debuted on July 7, 2012, featuring a separate lineup of Spanish-dubbed programs. NBC Kids, which replaced the Qubo block (as a result of NBCUniversal dropping out of the joint venture, which also included Ion Media Networks), was programmed by the Sprout cable network, and was targeted at children ages 2 to 9.The three-hour block featured educational entertainment series for younger children, which met programming requirements defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Children's Television Act. Programs broadcast by the NBC Kids block included Clangers, Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave, Floogals, Nina's World, LazyTown and Astroblast!. Programs broadcast under MiTelemundo include Spanish-dubbed episodes of Barney and Friends, Play with Me Sesame, Raggs and Super Why!, along with Spanish language versions of LazyTown, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Fireman Sam and Noodle and Doodle. All NBC Kids programs featured Descriptive Video Service on the second audio program channel for the visually impaired, with access depending on the local NBC affiliate.

On February 24, 2016, NBC announced that it would launch a new E/I block produced by Litton Entertainment, The More You Know—a brand extension of NBC's public service announcement strand of the same name, on October 8, 2016, ending the entirety of conventional children's programming – animated or otherwise – airing on NBC, as well as all of the "Big Five" networks on conventional terrestrial broadcast television.

Public Service Announcement (album)

Public Service Announcement is the third studio album by Purling Hiss, released on October 12, 2010 by Woodsist.


Skycron is an animation and film studio located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which concentrates on original properties as well as television commercials and public service announcements. Originally formed as an independent record label, it established itself as an important Ottawa studio when it landed the contract for public service announcement for Child & Youth Friendly Ottawa, a youth advocacy group. The announcement was subsequently run on CJOH-TV, the capital's affiliate of Canada's largest private broadcaster, CTV, giving the studio substantial exposure.

The founder of Skycron, Cory Carlick, was just 16 when the company was formed. The company got its start when Carlick's music was accidentally discovered on the Internet by an Ottawa broadcaster, who liked the work. The company has subsequently produced numerous spots in English and French for broadcasters and clients across North America and Europe, as well as original programming for syndication. Notable projects include the official music video, "La tête en l'air" for Quebec supergroup Kain; GO/NITRO, a sports series produced for Bell Media (parent of Canadian broadcasters CTV and TSN)

Skycron has been profiled on CTV Ottawa on two occasions: in 2003 for its musical involvement, and again in the beginning of 2005 for its public service announcement and for an anti-bullying brochure, "Back Off", produced for the Canadian Teachers' Federation.

Stoner Sloth

"Stoner Sloth" was an anti-cannabis public service announcement series of three videos, created by Australia's New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2015.

The Fighting Generation

The Fighting Generation is a 1944 propaganda short film or public service announcement produced for the U.S. Treasury Department and intended to boost war bond sales, directed by an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock and starring Jennifer Jones as a nurse's aide.

The film was shot in a single day, on October 9, 1944. Rhonda Fleming and actors Steve Dunhill and Tony Devlin were to appear in the scene, according to a call sheet, but in the end, only Jones appears on-screen.

The film survives in the Academy Film Archive and was preserved in 2008. The film is part of the Academy War Film Collection, one of the largest collections of World War II era short films held outside government archives.

The Hoodlum (1919 film)

The Hoodlum is a 1919 silent film comedy-drama produced by and starring Mary Pickford and released through First National. The film was directed by Sidney A. Franklin and was based on the novel Burkeses Amy by Julie Matilde Lippman.

The Marshall Mathers LP

The Marshall Mathers LP is the third studio album by American rapper Eminem, released on May 23, 2000 by Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. The album was produced mostly by Dr. Dre and Eminem, along with The 45 King, the Bass Brothers, and Mel-Man. It was recorded over a two-month period in several studios in the Detroit area, and during this time, Eminem felt significant pressure to improve upon the success of his previous record. Released a year after Eminem's breakout album The Slim Shady LP, the album features more introspective lyricism including the rapper's response to his sudden rise to fame and controversy surrounding his lyrics. Musically, the album has been associated with the genres of hardcore hip hop and horrorcore.

In addition to his relationship with fame, the rapper also discusses his relationship with wife Kim Mathers and his mother, who are both negatively depicted throughout the album. Like The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP was surrounded by significant controversy upon its release. Criticism centered around lyrics that were considered violent, homophobic, and misogynistic. Lynne Cheney criticized the lyrics at a United States Senate hearing, while the Canadian government considered refusing Eminem's entry into the country. Despite the controversy, the record received acclaim from critics, who praised the rapper's lyrical ability and emotional depth. Retrospectively, the album has appeared on several lists of the greatest albums of all time.

The album sold more than 1.78 million copies in the US in its first week alone, becoming the fastest-selling studio album by any solo artist in American music history at that time. In 2001, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and was nominated for Album of the Year, losing the latter to Steely Dan's Two Against Nature. The album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in March 2011 for shipping 10 million copies in the United States. It has sold over 11 million copies in the United States and over 35 million copies worldwide. A sequel to the album titled The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was released on November 5, 2013.

Woodsy Owl

Woodsy Owl is an owl icon for the United States Forest Service most famous for the motto "Give a hoot—don't pollute!" His current motto is "Lend a hand—care for the land!" Woodsy's target audience is children five to eight years of age, and he was designed to be seen as a mentor to children, providing them with information and advice to help them appreciate nature. Harold Bell of Western Publishing (and the producer of the Smokey Bear public service announcements), along with Glen Kovar and Chuck Williams, originally created the mascot in 1970 as part of a United States Forest Service campaign to raise awareness of protecting the environment.Woodsy's slogan was officially introduced on September 15, 1971 by Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin. The first Woodsy Owl public service spot was created by U.S. Forest Ranger Chuck Williams, who was the Forest Service's technical consultant for the Lassie TV show which featured a Forest Service Ranger and his family. Williams, along with Bell and Glenn Kovar, also of the U.S. Forest Service, brainstormed the idea for the Woodsy motif name together in Los Angeles, California, in 1970. In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Woodsy Owl Act (Public Law 93-318) to protect the image of the character.

Despite the documented history of Woodsy Owl's creation, various rival claims to his parentage have emerged over the years. Several individuals have stated that they invented Woodsy Owl as children as part of a nationwide poster contest. The Forest History Society has said that no evidence of such has been provided.Several songs have been used in conjunction with the Woodsy Owl environmental campaign, including "The Ballad of Woodsy Owl" and "Help Woodsy Spread the Word". Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, the drummer for "Weird Al" Yankovic, recorded "The Woodsy Owl Song."

For his appearances in commercials that aired in the 1970s and 1980s, Woodsy was voiced by several different actors, including Sterling Holloway, Barry Gordon, Dave Kimber, and Frank Welker.

Several other environmentalism-, conservation- or outdoor-themed comics have appeared over the years, including Mark Trail and Smokey Bear. Woodsy Owl appeared as a comic by Gold Key Comics from 1973 to 1976.

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