39 Of The Most Powerful Social Issue Ads That’ll Make You Stop And Think

Many people complain about advertisements as an obnoxious way for companies to invade our everyday lives and cram their products down our throats, but that’s not all that advertisements are good for. The advertisements on this list are excellent examples of effective advertising strategies for social issue campaigns that let their voices be heard.

A well-made advertisement is designed to grab your attention and to remain in your memory long after you’ve left it behind, and that is exactly what many of these social causes need. Getting people to think and worry about various social and environmental issues (or even simply getting them to be aware of them) is important for raising public support and affecting meaningful changes. A few of these ads are, in fact, commercial ads, but it’s still nice that they champion socially or environmentally aware causes/products.

Just like with commercial advertisements, having just the facts is not enough. They are important, but the ad must also appeal to the observer’s emotions. Many studies have indicated that emotion can have a powerful effect on memory formation, ensuring that memories with emotion will last longer than those without.

Torture Victims Are People Just Like You And Me

Advertising Agency: Advico Y&R, Zurich, Switzerland

Stop The Violence: Don’t Drink And Drive
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-2-1Advertising Agency: Terremoto Propaganda, Curitiba, Brazil

Premature Ending: “If you smoke, statistically your story will end 15% before it should.”
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-15“THE END. If you smoke, statistically your story will end 15% before it should. For help with quitting call QUITTLINE on 0200 00 22 00″³ (Advertising Agency: Iris, London, UK)

World Wide Fund For Nature: Frightening vs. More Frightening

Advertising Agency: DDB&CO., Istanbul, Turkey

Your Skin Color Shouldn’t Dictate Your Future
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-24-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-24-2Advertising Agency: Publicis Conseil, Paris, France

Deforestation Continues With The Turn Of A Page

Advertising Agency: LINKSUS, Beijing, China

Elm Grove Police Department: Slower Is Better
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-6Advertising Agency: Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee, USA

Save Paper – Save The Planet
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-49Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Copenhagen, Denmark

Air Pollution Kills 60,000 People A Year
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-37Advertising Agency: unknown

Liking Isn’t Helping. Be A Volunteer. Change A Life
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-36-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-36-2Advertising Agency: Publicis, Singapore

Bird Conservation: If You Don’t Pick It Up They Will
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-4Advertising Agency: TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa

What We See When You Smoke
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-64Advertising Agency: JWT, Atlanta, USA

Animal Anti-Cruelty League: That’s Not A Ball
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-10Advertising Agency: Lowe Bull, Cape Town, South Africa

Bangalore Traffic Police: Don’t Talk While Driving
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-18-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-18-2Advertising Agency: Mudra Group, India

Child Soldiers: It’s Not Happening Here, But It’s Happening Now
amnesty-international-campaign-ads-122Creative/Art director Pius Walker, Amnesty International, Switzerland.

Censorship Tells The Wrong Story
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-12Advertising Agency: Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, UAE

Distracted Driving: Think Of Both Sides
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-67Advertising Agency: Red Pepper, Ekaterinburg, Russia

Every 60 Seconds a Species Dies Out. Each Minute Counts
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-5-1Advertising Agency: Scholz & Friends, Berlin, Germany

Sexual Predators Can Hide In Your Child’s Smartphone
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-62Advertising Agency: Herezie, Paris, France

Smoking Causes Premature Aging
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-43Advertising Agency: Euro RSCG Australia

You’re Not A Sketch. Say No To Anorexia.
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-63Advertising Agency: Revolution Brasil

Neglected Children Are Made To Feel Invisible. Stop Child Abuse Now
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-66“To dramatize the issue of neglect, we placed mannequins dressed as children behind billposters. When the inevitable happened, we revealed a second message.” (Australian Childhood Foundation, JWT Melbourne)

Global Action In The Interest of Animals: Plastic Bags Kill
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-1Advertising Agency: BBDO Malaysia, MALAYSIA, Kuala Lumpur / Advertising Agency: Duval Guillaume, Belgium

What Goes Around Comes Around. Keep The Sea Clean
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-8-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-8-2Advertising Agency: JWT, Dubai, UAE

Tailgating Isn’t Worth It. Give Trucks Room
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-14Advertising Agency: Amélie Company Advertising, Denver, Colorado, USA

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: When You See A Tuna, Think Panda
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-21Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Singapore

Sleepiness Is Stronger Than You. Don’t Drive Sleepy
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-22Advertising Agency: BBDO Bangkok, Thailand

See How Easy Feeding The Hungry Can Be?
amnesty-international-campaign-ads-123Advertising Agency: TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa

Deforestation And The Air We Breathe: Before It’s Too Late
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-25Advertising Agency: TBWA PARIS, France

For The Homeless, Every Day Is A Struggle
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-28Advertising Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Australia

The Prevention Beer Mug: Please Don’t Lose Control Over Your Drinking
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-32Advertising Agency: EURORSCG Prague, Czech Republic

One Child Is Holding Something That’s Been Banned In America To Protect Them. Guess Which One?
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-35-2 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-35-3Advertising Agency: Grey, Toronto, Canada

Breast Cancer Awareness Bra
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-39Advertising Agency: Bolero, Fortaleza, Brazil

What Goes Around Comes Around: Stop The Iraq War
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-41-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-41-2Advertising Agency: Big Ant International, New York, USA

UN Women: Auto-Complete Shows Perceptions Of Women
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-45-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-45-3Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Dubai, UAE

Don’t Buy Exotic Animal Souvenirs
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-47Advertising Agency: LOWE GGK, Warsaw, Poland

Animal Abuse And Shelters: Same Pet, Different Owner
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-50-1 public-interest-public-awareness-ads-50-2Advertising Agency: TBWA-Santiago Mangada Puno, Philippines

Buckle up. Stay alive.
public-interest-public-awareness-ads-40Advertising Agency: Lg2, Quebec, Canada


According to “Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy, his contemporary, Howard Gossage, said that “advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest””it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes.” We definitely agree, which is why we wanted to share this list of social cause advertisements with you…and invite you to please share with your friends.

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