Public Service Announcements used to be a staple on commercial airwaves. The quality of messages put out by service organizations like the Ad Council have helped people become aware of important issues affecting their lives. The Ad Council’s mission is to, “Identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make a measurable difference in our society.” However, the first PSAs I noticed when I was a kid came from a New York City commercial advertising agency named McCaffery and McCall. McCall sensed the need for more entertaining education and hired Bob Dorough to write one of the first in a series of songs in 1973, that would become known as Schoolhouse Rock. It was 42 years ago this week on January 20, 1973 when ABC’s Michael Eisner aired “Zero my Hero” on his Saturday morning children’s line-up. The series spawned several classics and some of my favorite PSAs of all time.
There was a special combination of the time period of the Hippie generation and creative advertising people recognizing the impact of edutainment before the Hip Hop generation would coin the term some 20 years later in the 1990’s, that made Schoolhouse Rock possible. Even now the songs are still pleasant to listen to, show musicianship and a certain edginess and philosophical insight indicative of the Hippie age.