PSA Highlighting Housing Discrimination Garners Ad Council’s Top Honor

Media 11.21,03

(Washington, DC) – A public service announcement promoting fair housing laws received the Ad Council’s Golden Bell Award for the Best PSA of 2003. Produced by New York-based advertising agency Merkley Newman Harty under the direction of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF), the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the PSA seeks to arm victims of under-reported housing discrimination with the facts about their rights.

The fair housing PSA was selected among 54 current Ad Council campaigns by its Campaign Review Committee composed of leading advertising executives. This is the second time an LCCREF-sponsored campaign has received the Golden Bell Award.

Titled “Accents,” the television spot opens with a white man making calls to a rental office. He gives a different name and uses a different voice for each call, reflecting various races and ethnicities, and is told each time that the apartment is not available. When he uses a Caucasian-sounding name and accent, he is assured that the apartment is vacant. The ad has appeared on television stations across the country, and the radio version aired during the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.

The award-winning PSA is part of a year-long, multi-media campaign that includes English and Spanish print, radio and television spots. LCCREF, sister organization of the nation’s leading civil rights coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, developed the campaign to inform renters and homebuyers about insidious forms of exclusion, ranging from linguistic profiling during telephone contacts to barring families with children from housing opportunities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than two million instances of housing discrimination occur each year, but fewer than one percent are reported. In order to effectively combat housing discrimination, renters and homebuyers must know their rights and how to spot illegal behavior by landlords or realtors.

“It is difficult to fight housing discrimination without being armed with information,” explains Shanna Smith, NFHA president. “This campaign is vitally important because it empowers people who are unaware that they have been victims of housing discrimination with facts on what to look for and then how to respond.”

“Housing discrimination is a pervasive problem nationwide,” added Karen McGill Lawson, LCCREF executive director. “We hope our campaign sends a signal to those who discriminate, but more importantly we want victims of discrimination to know that there is redress.”