Why Social Issue Advertisements Are Effective

Social Issue Campaigns Evoke Emotion.

Social Ads Lay It on Heavy. (Image Credit benetton.com)

There’s a love-hate relationship between consumers and advertisements. We learn about a brand or a product through ads on television, magazines, newspapers and radio. We learn how these products function and what benefits they provide the consumer because their models say so. To some consumers, ads can be helpful at times, but they also annoy especially when they disrupt their favorite TV show or their groove while listening to music on the radio.

However, not all advertisements are annoying and irrelevant. Non-commercial ads also exist and they are typically those that spread public awareness and have noble causes. Some of these ads were made for big brands, but they deliver powerful messages related to the environment, society, or notable causes that the brand supports.


Why do we vividly remember social issue ads?


They are thought-provoking

Many of today’s social issue advertisements are highly visual with clever one-liners. Some visuals are abstract or subtle, but still leave thought-provoking imagery and messaging that are hard to forget.

Have Shock factor

Shock factor is an objective of shock advertisements. These are ads that you never thought would appear online or in any form of media. Take for example PETA and WWF ads that tackle animal and wildlife issues. They have published jaw-dropping and even offensive ads that shock nations, congregations, and consumers that some of them got banned.


Shock advertising used in social issue ads are made to grab attention. Places where billboards and posters are installed, and online where photos can be circulated and shared virally have garnered mixed reactions through the attention they’ve got from passers-by and online viewers alike.

Create public awareness

While there are negative reactions to social issue advertisements, let’s not forget that these were created for public awareness. Ads about quitting smoking, child abuse, the environment, and others have garnered attention that reached far and wide over the internet.

Trigger deep emotions

Some of the ads about social issues have triggered deep emotions among audiences. There are ads that can make your weep because of their visual impact and message altogether, while some angered people who’ve seen them.

Facilitate retention

All of the factors prior can create viewer retention because they make people stop, look and remember the message and imagery that bring the advertisement to life. Shocking, intriguing, and controversial ads do have varying impacts on people on different levels. Being able to capture the viewer’s attention for a long time is an accomplishment in itself since today’s attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter. This enables ads to go viral since one of the reactions from viewers is to share them to their contacts via social media.

Ads that provoke and struck a chord in people have more impact than traditional ads on TV, radio and other media, simply because they DON’T push products and services unlike the latter. A social issue that deals with the complexities and realities of life and situations that surround it are more interesting because they have more powerful messages to convey to society.