Before the economy went south, media companies expected to sell all their advertising time to big car companies and financial institutions. But while those companies' advertising budgets have dried up, there is at least one winner amidst the declining ad sales: public service announcements.
According the Ad Council, which connects nonprofits to media outlets and ad agencies, there's been a 23 percent increase in PSAs in the last year.
Ad Council president Peggy Conlon thinks stations and networks benefit from connecting their audiences to the community.
"Both broadcast networks and cable networks, local affiliates [and] radio stations — they all really feel that sense of responsibility to their community and they understand they have a special platform," she says.
For instance, the nonprofit organization Autism Speaks has seen a 19 percent increase in the broadcast of its "Autism Awareness" PSAs since the economy took a tumble, with ads running on American Idol, 24 and during high-profile golf tournaments.
Bill Shea, director of creative services for the organization, says because of all the PSA play, "autism is now a part of the national vocabulary."
And more nonprofits are poised to step into the action; the Ad Council is coming out next with PSAs on the importance of adopting shelter pets, how to prevent suicide and how kids can save the forests.