The Ad Council’s 64th Annual Public Service Award Dinner in Honor of Unilever CEO Paul Polman Celebrates the Power of Advertising for Social Change

On the 30th November the Ad Council, the non-profit leader behind iconic and impactful public service campaigns including “Love Has No Labels” and Smokey Bear, held its 64th Annual Public Service Award Dinner honoring Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Samantha Bee, host of TBS’s Emmy-winning Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, emceed the event, which concluded with a live performance from musicians Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. The event was held at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City.

Attended by more than 1,500 prominent executives from the media, advertising and corporate communities, the Annual Public Service Award Dinner recognizes the industries and individuals who support the Ad Council and its public service campaigns. This year’s dinner was chaired by David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R and Chair of the Ad Council’s Board of Directors. Platinum Sponsors included Adobe, Facebook, Google, and iHeartMedia Inc. and Clear Channel Outdoor, with Unilever as the Gold Sponsor.

Polman was presented with this year’s Public Service Award for his vision and commitment to make sustainable living commonplace—driving long-term, responsible business growth in the process. As Unilever’s CEO, Polman has set Unilever on an ambitious journey to fully decouple its environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.    

“This year’s dinner was a truly sensational and inspiring celebration of all that our industry does for social good,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO, The Ad Council. “When we come together, there is no doubt that we transform distinct and altruistic moments into collective movements that impact millions of people throughout the country.”

The night included appearances from those who have been personally impacted by Ad Council campaign issues, including:

  • Jeannette McCoy, a Puerto Rican lesbian living in Orlando who survived the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Jeannette stars with her girlfriend Yaris in the Emmy-nominated “Fans of Love” PSA for Love Has No Labels and she champions diversity and inclusivity.
  • Ashley Garcia Rivera, who was adopted from foster care at the age of 16—a time when she’d assumed she was too old to be adopted. Ashley, with the help of her mom, started Suitcases of Hope which gives hope to other children and teens in foster care.
  • Ella Griffith-Tager, a 12-year-old who has dyslexia and dreams of being a rocket scientist one day. Ella is an advocate for others with learning and attention issues and has taught college students—future educators—about what it’s like to have dyslexia.
  • Samantha Jacobs, who has three children and depends on a local food pantry to help feed her family. Samantha is passionate about helping others in similar situations.

Samantha Bee is known for hosting TBS’s late-night show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which recently earned seven Emmy nominations. Time named Bee one of the 100 most influential people in the world on their annual Time 100 list. Previous hosts of the Ad Council’s dinner include Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien and James Corden.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, whose performance was provided by iHeartMedia and Clear Channel Outdoor, are Grammy award-winning artists known for hits like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “Love Is A Battlefield,” “We Belong” and “Promises In The Dark.” The rock ‘n’ roll power couple have spent almost four decades making music together and have used their talent to support those in need, including writing and recording a powerful ode for the Women’s March in Washington D.C., with proceeds of the song going to the BA Rudolph Foundation to support women pursuing government and public service.

The Ad Council has been honoring corporate leaders for their contributions to public service since 1953. The Public Service Award Dinner is the organization’s largest fundraising event. The event is annually ranked by BizBash as one of the top 100 events in New York City and as one of the top three advertising events of the year.


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