Traditional advertising places a product or service at the center of attention. However, a new approach to advertising has become more common where the primary message of the advertisement is about values and virtues that inspire and motivate people toward a hopeful future. This kind of media is a fusion of advertising and social activism.
This hybrid approach to advertising has been hugely successful. Formats can take different forms such as a music video or telling an inspirational story. These tend to be organically promoted by people telling people through social networks. If you are a professional in advertising or marketing, do all you can to help promote this kind of advertising. It’s better for your brand and it’s better for the world and allows for two messages to be presented simultaneously.
Advertising and Art
Sometimes an ad campaign can be focused on an artistic work at its core. An example would be the AT&T Painted Hands Advertising Global World Coverage in Different Countries.
Advertising as Comedy
Another effective approach for advertising is to make advertisements funny. Glacéau produced a series of funny advertisements for their Vitamin Water product. The ads feature Steve Nash.
- E*Trade – Funny Baby Video Commercial Campaign (humor)
- Glacéau – Vitamin Water Hosts Website With Facebook and Launches Steve Nash Funny YouTube Video Campaign (humor)
- Microsoft Windows – Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld (humor)
- Nike – Steve Nash as the 60 Million Dollar Man (humor)
- Sony Ericsson Funny Product Testing Institute Video Xperia X10 Smart Phone Experiment Videos With Surfers, Rockers, Toddlers, Models, and Body Building Italian Guys (humor)
Advertising as Entertainment
Advertisers are competing to produce higher quality ads that will attract people’s interest. In 2010, Apple announced their iAd campaign to offer advertising that is fun, interesting, and engaging. This is also an opportunity to showcase and promote companies and products that are forward thinking. For example, the Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle is one of the products promoted on the iAd platform from Apple.
Advertising as Inspiration
Visit our Inspiring Advertising page to learn more about this category of ads.
Advertising as Philanthropy
In 2010, Pepsi launched their Refresh Everything campaign using an inspirational music video featuring the song One Tribe by Will.i.am. The Refresh Everything campaign was established to offer grants to small charities that might not otherwise receive funding. This is an example of how an advertising campaign can be merged with philanthropy.
TED Ads Worth Spreading
Recently TED has begun to bring more attention to advertising with the characteristics described above through their AWS (Ads Worth Spreading) campaign.
Resources for Further Reading
Below are articles and resources for further reading.
- “Rethinking the boundaries of social marketing: Activism or advertising?” by Walter Wymer, Journal of Business Research, February 2010.
- “Sex doesn’t sell any more, activism does. And don’t the big brands know it” by Alex Holder, The Guardian, 3 Feb 2017.
- “Social Activism Becomes a Thing for Brands, Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge” by Michelle Castillo, Ad Week, 31 Aug 2014.
- TED – Ads Worth Spreading. Advertising with a positive message.
- USA Today – AdMeter. Vote on the latest advertising.