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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 573-00
September 19, 2000

ARMY, AD COUNCIL ANNOUNCE "OPERATION GRADUATION"

As America's youth go back to school, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera and the Advertising Council announced today the launch of a three-year national public service advertising campaign encouraging high school completion by reminding teens to "Stay In School. Give Yourself A Chance."

U.S. Education Secretary Richard W. Riley joined Caldera and Advertising Council President and Chief Executive Officer Peggy Conlon as they unveiled four public service advertisements (PSAs). The ads feature teenagers discussing the personal challenges they are overcoming in order to get the education that is important to their futures.

The Army is one of the largest employers of youth in America. This partnership with the Ad Council reflects the Army's commitment to America's young people and its priority of encouraging educational opportunities necessary to succeed in today's Information Age economy. The Army worked with the Ad Council to champion the campaign and assist with production expenses.

Strategy, research and creative development of the PSAs for the general market campaign were conducted by volunteer ad agency Publicis. The television component, which was directed by Andrew Walton of Chelsea Pictures, features the testimony of three youths who dropped out of school due to experiences with teen pregnancy, drug use and gang involvement. Recognizing the tough road they had taken, they then decided to return to the classroom. The PSAs are intended to challenge at-risk youth to find the strength to stay in school and succeed regardless of the obstacles they face.

Teens ages 12-14, in particular, form the primary focus of this national multi-media public service advertising campaign. Volunteer ad agency Conill will be creating Spanish market PSAs for the campaign, which are slated for release in the spring of 2001.

"Today's teens face many challenges to personal success. We want to help inspire teens to overcome these obstacles, complete their high school education and seek future career and learning opportunities as bright, productive members of society," Caldera said. "Sponsoring this campaign is part of the Army's commitment to America's youth."

"I applaud the efforts being made by this campaign to reinforce the message that all of our young people should, and can, be given a quality education," Riley said. "We can continue to help more students stay in school by providing safe schools, expanding after-school programs, and encouraging adults to get involved as mentors. When young people drop out they do more than just give up on their education, too often they are giving up on themselves as well."

Dubbed "Operation Graduation," campaign elements include four television advertisements, which may be viewed on the Internet at http://www.army.mil/stayinschool/default.htm . [link no longer available] In addition to television, PSAs are also available in radio, out-of-home advertising and Web banners. The Ad Council distributed PSAs to nearly 1,600 TV stations and 11,000 radio stations nationwide. PSAs for the campaign also can be viewed in the "Current Campaigns" section of the Ad Council's Web site, http://www.adcouncil.org

"This hard hitting creative campaign really empowers at-risk youth, by depicting peers who have overcome adversity, which is widely regarded as the most relevant way to reach that particular audience," Conlon said. "Currently, the Ad Council has reached the midpoint of our ten-year children's initiative, 'Commitment 2000,' and Operation Graduation is central to the cause. It is a critically important topic, the creative is first-rate, and I believe that this is a message the media will really get behind."

The Advertising Council is a private, nonprofit organization, which has been the leading producer of public service communications programs in the United States since 1942. The council supports campaigns that benefit children, families and communities. The communications programs are national in scope and have generated strong, measurable results. Ad Council campaigns, such as "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Take A Bite Out of Crime," and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," have helped to save lives and resources, to educate the public about issues and concerns of the day, and to make America a healthier country in which to live.

For more information, contact Paul Boyce or Army Maj. Mike Greer at (703) 697-3447 or (703) 614-7380, or Susan Jacobsen at The Advertising Council at (212) 984-1919.

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