PSA Spotlight: PSAs save lives

Nonprofit PSA

Last summer I attended (my client) American Red Cross’s all-hands marketing meeting. It was really quite a treat to be brought into this meeting because I got a 360-degree view of all their marketing efforts, much of which goes beyond our agency’s scope of work. The daylong meeting was packed full of interesting content, but by the end of the day the presenters knew we were getting antsy. So, one presentation started off with this video from the British Heart Foundation.

It got tons of laughs and refocused the crowd. It also was the perfect example of a way to use music to remember important things, like how to give CPR. CPR could save a life, but you never know if and when you’ll ever have to perform it. Using the memorable song “Stayin’ Alive” with directions on how to give CPR could help even an uncertified person help save a life one day.

Here’s the American Heart’s extension of this video, featuring Ken Jeong from the movie “The Hangover.”


Perhaps this video pushes the original to a ridiculous level, but that’s what will get this video attention and hopefully people will remember “Call 911. Push Hard and Fast.”

Yes, “Disco saves lives.” Other Public Service Announcements (PSAs) do, too. Here’s a real-life example.

I was recently visiting DC Media with another client, SCORE, to promote their PSAs. (You can view those here.) We met with Melvin Chase, a 24-year veteran at WTOP-FM. He is the epitome of a PSA Director – he’s literally worn every hat at the station, except for being on air. He knows, more than anyone else at WTOP, the power of PSAs. During our conversation about the impact of PSAs, he mentioned a story I had heard on the radio recently about how a PSA had saved a listener’s life.

WTOP aired a PSA from the Women’s Health initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services. They created the PSA with a jingle to help women be more aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. You can listen to it here. The lyrics are catchy.

“Pain in your chest, neck, arms or jaw
Shortness of breath, please tell us more
Cold sweats and nausea, tiredness
it’s time to take it serious.

If any sound familiar, call 911.”

She told WTOP, “I heard the song a number of times being played as a public service announcement on WTOP at night.” She then urged other women to listen to the song “because the song that gets stuck in your head [and] could save your heart.”

This is one of the many reasons PSAs are so important for our media to air. They do it out of the kindness of their hearts because it’s an unpaid ad, but it makes a real difference. Now it’s our job as advertisers to come up with ways to make the messages memorable, enough to save lives.


No Comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.