The Best Work You May Never See: Ad Council, Walton Isaacson, Director Chel White Dial 211 To Help Those In Need During Pandemic


Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2021


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During a time when America has faced one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, and with ongoing updates to many relief programs, a new national public service campaign launched by the Ad Council and United Way Worldwide, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, encourages people to call 211 or visit, a one-stop network during moments of need. With over 200 agencies and thousands of caring local experts across all 50 states, 211 provides help in navigating support services and accessing essential benefits to help build a better life for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet. 
In addition to killing more than 600,000 Americans, the pandemic threatens the health of vulnerable people devastated by the loss of jobs, homes and opportunities for the future: 11.3% of Americans today live in poverty, 20 million adults recently have had trouble putting food on the table, and over 2.3 million women completely dropped out of the labor force, which could leave them and their children financially disadvantaged for years. 

From food assistance and help paying bills to health care answers and mental health resources, 211 can guide people who are struggling but might not know where to turn. Each specialist is local to their community and is trained to help confidentially curate resources and advocate for those who need support. During 2020 alone, the 211 network made 27.8 million connections to critical services and help.  This is up nearly 100% from the 14 million connections in 2019.  During the height of the pandemic in North America in 2020, 211 processed a 150% increase in connections to food programs. 

Creative agency Walton Isaacson developed the multi-channel campaign pro bono, which includes online video, broadcast and radio spots in both English and Spanish, illustrating 211 as the guiding light for families who are struggling financially or emotionally. The initiative also includes digital out-of-home and banners, which will be distributed nationally per the Ad Council’s donated media model.

This animated PSA, directed by Chel White of Bent Image Lab for Walton Isaacson, is designed to help raise awareness of resources available through the 211 initiative.

“Shining a light on a resource like 211 at this moment in history has meant the world to our team,” said Aaron Walton, founder and CEO of Walton Isaacson. “We wanted to raise awareness in an actionable way, making sure people knew they were not alone and that their specific needs were understood.”


Client The Ad Council, United Way Worldwide, The Rockefeller Foundation Agency Walton Isaacson  Milton LeBron, executive creative director; Erika Saca, Kevin Simcox, creative directors; Andrea Loza, Camila Witt, art directors; Shauna Williams, VP, head of production; Ben Karson, producer; Raul Rios, VP of strategy; Cynthia Nishihira, sr. digital producer. Animation Bent Image Lab Chel White, director; Anthony Greene, exec producer; Anneke Schoneveld, Chris Shrier, producers.


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