WASHINGTON - Recent severe weather and the start of the Atlantic hurricane season reinforce the need for Americans to familiarize themselves with the look, sound and authenticity of real-time Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). To encourage, educate and empower Americans to identify WEAs so they can take steps to prepare for emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ad Council are unveiling new public service advertisements (PSAs). The PSAs are a part of the Ready campaign which for ten years has encouraged Americans to prepare in advance of natural disasters and other emergencies.
The new English and Spanish PSAs will be distributed as part of Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 26 – June 1, 2013), an annual effort by FEMA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Hurricane Center to inform the public about hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. A lack of hurricane awareness and preparation has historically contributed to the devastation wrought by past major hurricane disasters.
WEAs are emergency messages sent by local authorized government authorities through wireless carriers’ networks. The alerts include a special tone and vibration. The messages are no more than 90 characters and contain the type and time of the alert, any action individuals should take and the issuing agency. Types of alerts include extreme weather such as hurricane, tornado or flash flood warnings; AMBER alerts and alerts issued by the President*. More than 100 carriers, including all of America’s largest wireless carriers, offer the WEA service for free and no subscription is necessary. Alerts are broadcast from area cell towers warning everyone in range with a WEA-capable device of a potential emergency situation.
“Many people may not realize that they carry a potentially lifesaving tool with them in their pockets or purses every day,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As hurricane season approaches, we want Americans to know that Wireless Emergency Alerts delivered to their mobile phones by FEMA, the National Weather Service and other agencies, can help people take appropriate preparedness steps when facing potential man-made and natural disasters.”
Created by Washington, DC and Oakland, CA based Free Range Studios, the PSAs highlight the potentially lifesaving role of WEAs when facing natural disasters, as well as other emergencies. The TV PSA drives home the preparedness point and the crucial role of mobile technology with a slow-motion montage of lifesaving objects (pedestrian signal, life preserver, defibrillator, and seat belt) which transition to an image of a wireless device delivering a WEA. The PSA ends by demonstrating the positive result of WEAs by showing a family taking shelter after receiving a tornado alert. The English radio, TV, and digital PSAs direct audiences to Ready.gov/alerts for more information. The Spanish radio, TV and digital PSAs direct to Listo.gov/alertas.
“It was an honor to work with the Ad Council and FEMA on this PSA campaign,” said Erica Priggen executive producer at Free Range Studios. “Wireless Emergency Alerts are an invaluable new way of getting information out in the face of disasters, crises and national news breaking events. Knowing that WEAs can help save lives, and empower people in serious times of need, made the project a very gratifying collaboration.”
“Utilizing the power of communication to keep Americans healthy and safe is our mission and nowhere is this better exemplified than in our 10-year partnership on the Ready campaign,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are excited to launch this new facet of the campaign and continue to help FEMA deliver critical messages to the American public.”
Since its launch in 2003, the Ready campaign has encouraged Americans to prepare in advance, to minimize the impact of an emergency on their families, homes or businesses. WEAs are another tool to help Americans be more prepared in times of crisis. To date, the campaign has received over $1 billion in donated media and the campaign website Ready.gov has received over 77 million visits. More than 88 million preparedness materials have been requested or downloaded from Ready.gov and Ad Council tracking surveys show that since 2005, the proportion of U.S. households who have taken any steps to prepare has increased by 13%, from 45% to 58%. Per the Ad Council model, PSAs are distributed to media outlets nationwide and run and air in advertising time and space donated by the media.
* Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
The Advertising Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling 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 affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. For more information, please visit www.adcouncil.org. You can also visit www.facebook.com/adcouncil or follow the Ad Council on Twitter @AdCouncil.
Free Range Studios
Free Range works with visionary companies and organizations to create story-based brands, transforming clients’ visions for a better future into emotionally compelling media — from interactive and mobile to print and video. We believe people are hungry for brands and movements that offer empowerment, not fear and insecurity. Our home offices are in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA. For more information visit our website at freerange.com, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/freerangestudios, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/freerangestudio.
Lisa Cullen, Ad Council, 202-331-5052, firstname.lastname@example.org
FEMA, 202-646-3272, FEMA-News-Desk@dhs.gov
Frankie Ridolfi, Free Range Studios, 510-292-4737, email@example.com