WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Lung Association has released an edgy public service advertising (PSA) campaign featuring provocative television, online and out-of-home components to encourage people to download the charity’s new State of the Air® smartphone application, a valuable resource for people living with lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people with heart disease or diabetes, as well as older adults and children. This is the first time that a charity has included an app download as the call to action in a national PSA, which traditionally focuses on promoting the brand or a particular health message.
Despite continued improvements in improved air quality across the country, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exists across the nation. According to the Lung Association’s 2012 State of the Air report, more than 127.2 million people live in U.S. counties with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, the two most widespread air pollutants.
The State of the Air app enables users to enter their zip code or use the geo-locator functionality to get current and next-day air quality conditions. The app also provides levels of both ozone and particle pollution, and pushes out alerts if local air quality is code orange or worse. Depending on the severity of the day’s air pollution, the app will provide vital health recommendations – advising that outdoor activities should be rescheduled or that people who work outdoors should limit extended or heavy exertion.
“We are excited that the new PSA campaign’s State of the Air app will allow New Jersey residents and the nation to be aware of the air they breathe,” said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “We encourage everyone to download this very important resource tool to protect our lung health.”
This air quality information is based on data made available to the public by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The American Lung Association app is available for Apple in iTunes and for Android in Google Play or at ung.org/stateoftheairapp.
American Lung Association supporters tend to skew older, and although the “Breathe Smarter” PSA campaign is targeted to a younger demographic (individuals between the ages of 18 and 40) the app is a valuable tool for all age groups with smart phones. Both the campaign and the app were developed by Red Deluxe in Memphis, Tennessee. The campaign includes television, online and out-of-home PSAs that promote the app as a valuable health resource to individuals, especially those at most risk from breathing unhealthy air.
According to Jeff Boal with Plowshare Group, a company that is responsible for placing hundreds of millions of dollars in donated media: “The American Lung Association’s new campaign represents a unique shift in thinking for social issue communications. Humor is a great way to reach all audiences and it’s sometimes tough to be funny when it comes to health charity messages.”
The television/online PSAs feature a fictional “air collector” named Alvin Grimes, who is incredibly passionate about his love of air. He loves air so much he takes samples in glass jars from everywhere he visits and even from his own backyard. Alvin’s character is meant to be quirky and endearing as evidenced by his passion for the air and all things air-related, e.g. dirigibles, sailboats, balloons, pinwheels, etc.
“Our new PSAs are meant to be comical to capture the viewer’s attention and convey the underlying message that it is important to be aware of your air,” said Carrie Martin Munk, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the American Lung Association. “We hope Alvin gets people to laugh, stop and think about what they’re breathing, and then download the app so they can monitor local air quality on a daily basis.”
Alvin has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts where he will post and tweet about air. The television PSAs include :10, :15, :30 and :60 second formats. There are four additional online videos that will be available on Alvin’s YouTube page that are varied in length. Find Alvin online here: facebook.com/theaircollector; twitter.com/theaircollector; youtube.com/user/theaircollector.
The PSAs will be distributed to national cable and to televisions stations in markets across the country, and the Lung Association will also be placing the television ads in movie theaters, and online on health and fitness related websites. The out-of-home ads will be placed in a few select markets and will appear in shopping malls, bus shelters, and train stations, along with highway/neighborhood billboards.