Ad Council Joins Three Leading Environmental Groups in Unprecedented Partnership to Promote Ocean Awareness

October 4, 2006


The Ad Council: Ellyn Fisher, 212-984-1964,
NMSF: Lori Arguelles, 301 608-3040 X1,
NOAA: Scott Smullen, 202-482-6090, 
Environmental Defense: Kathleen Goldstein, 202-572-3243,
Buena Vista Home Ent: Amelia McPartlon, 818-295-5243,

(Washington, D.C. – October 4, 2006) The Advertising Council announces today in partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Defense and The Walt Disney Studios’ Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment Division, the launch of a multi-media public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to encourage all Americans to protect the oceans from the devastation of marine debris.

The campaign, which prominently features scenes and characters from Disney’s ocean-themed animated classic, The Little Mermaid, marks the first time that the three environmental organizations have partnered on the important issue of ocean protection. The use of such universally loved characters will help to deliver this vital environmental message in a family friendly way.

Over half of the nation’s population lives along the coast, while many others visit the ocean each year. Yet, few Americans are aware that the health of our oceans is currently at risk; nor do they realize that they have a significant role to play in keeping the oceans clean. No matter where people live, marine debris, such as fast food packaging; cigarette lighters/butts/packaging; beverage containers and disabled or waste fishing gear either enters the oceans directly when discarded near the coast, or indirectly via rivers, streams and storm drains which ultimately flow into the oceans. In fact, routine activities on land and water contribute to 6.4 million tons of debris entering the oceans each year.

The majority of marine debris is comprised of plastics, which cause environmental problems they degrade even more slowly in seawater than on land. In fact, discarded plastic bags comprise over 50% of dangerous marine items and are consumed by marine mammals such as sea turtles and whales. This consumption causes blockage of their intestinal tracts, which can lead to choking and starvation. Additionally, thousands of seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins and sea turtles also become entangled in plastic debris or in lost and discarded fishing lines and nets every year. This not only destroys marine habitat, but causes skin lesions, ulcerating wounds, suffocation and death.

The new campaign is designed to raise awareness among Americans about the health of the oceans and the impact of human actions on the ocean ecosystem. The campaign also seeks to inspire individuals to identify ways they can take action to help keep our oceans clean.

“We all love and enjoy the oceans, but studies show that the majority of Americans rarely think about how our actions impact their well-being. Research shows that ocean pollution is low on our list of environmental concerns,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. “This campaign beautifully conveys how important and easy it is to protect our oceans.”

The Little Mermaid’s enchanting ocean setting made it the perfect visual foundation for this project. As the most requested animated Disney DVD title, it is very recognizable to parents and families, who watch the movie and have an emotional connection with the characters – and are the key demographic for making a difference on this environmental issue.

The PSAs feature the classic characters Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian, as well as others from The Little Mermaid. All of the PSAs communicate to audiences that, regardless of where you live, “life in the oceans depends on you” and encourages us all to dispose of trash properly.

“The good news is that the problem of trash in our oceans is one that CAN be solved,” said Lori Arguelles, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “As this campaign points out, each one of us can make a huge difference by being more aware of how we dispose of trash. The ocean truly is ‘part of our world’ and The Little Mermaid characters help make that connection, especially to children, who have a huge impact on their parents’ actions, as previous land-based recycling efforts have shown.”

The new PSAs encourage Americans to visit a new website,, to learn how they can protect the oceans. Developed by Animax, the site provides information and motivation for children and families to do their part to help protect the oceans by taking visitors into the ocean where they see real fish swimming alongside animated debris. Visitors are encouraged to explore the world by clicking on the objects, which provide information on the breadth of the problem and tips on how to protect the oceans. Additionally, the website includes links to games for children, as well as information for parents and teachers. Ocean Pet Tropical Fish in Los Angeles provided the fish that are featured on the website.

“No one person or organization can single handedly promote ocean awareness and the importance of eliminating marine debris. NOAA is excited about this partnership with the environmental community, the Ad Council, and Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment as a mechanism to educate and energize the American public to protect our oceans,” said Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Vice Admiral (Ret.), Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. The new PSA campaign will feature television spots, including Spanish, an outdoor and online campaign and will be distributed to media outlets nationwide this month to appear in advertising time and space donated by the media.

“Oceans provide us with food, medicine, recreation and much more,” said Environmental Defense Oceans Program Director David Festa. “Without healthy oceans, we cannot lead healthy lives.”

To view the PSAs, visit