Advertising as a powerful tool which calls for discussion.

Do we like advertising? The vast majority of people would rather answer negatively. However, no matter we love advertising or not, it is hard to deny that it is a significant part of our everyday lives (Rai, 2013). Many people are annoyed by ads. They assume that by showing commercials tycoons are trying to push their products and force consumers to buy the products they are not interested in. On the other hand other people might find advertising very helpful, and even inspirational.

However, commercial side of advertising is not the only one. Advertising can be used as a powerful tool to educate, motivate and inspire people all over the world. As ‘father of advertising’ Ogilvy said “advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest – it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes”.

Well-created emotional ads can catch attention and stay in our memory for a long time (Reisberg and Hertel, 2004). This is definitely what we need nowadays. We have so many social issues which are calling for discussion. These problems must be noticed and heard. So why not use advertising for solving social issues? I think social advertising is a brilliant finding which show people what kind of challenges we have and might face in the future. Also, social ads call humanity for discussing and solving these challenges and as a result, it might help to prevent us and next generations from potential problems.

From my personal experience, since I am a big animal lover, I am always influenced by advertising campaigns of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). This is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 aims to protect wildlife and environments, tackles climate change and promotes sustainable use of resources. There are two posters below from the previous campaign which called for ‘give a hand to wildlife‘. The concept of the campaign is very simple and yet very smart. Human hands using spatial painting techniques were transformed into animal heads. The message of the campaign was world’s wildlife is in human hands. Simple, touching and thought-provoking.

wwf_eagle_hand wwf_zebra_hand

Another example which I would like to show up is Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). This is a British environmental charity organisation protecting UK’s waves and beaches. There are  posters below from the campaigns ‘Break The Bag Habit’ and ‘Protect Our Waves’. The goal of and message of the campaign were calling us to stop leaving plastic bags, bottles and other rubbish on beaches of the country, and thing what a dreadful harm it causes to the environment. Just think about the ocean where no one can swim. Still want to drop a plastic bottle on the beach?


What is your attitude to social marketing? Do you think it is a milestone in marketing or it annoys you?


Author: Elena Tsarkova

MSc Digital Marketing at The University of Southampton. Fascinated by influence of digital media on human beings.

14 thoughts on “Advertising as a powerful tool which calls for discussion.”

  1. Hey Elena,

    I like your point of view in this article. Actually advertising has been being used for social purposes and we can easily catch sight of them in public places. It’s kinda the same case to the group project in class. As far as i know, many simple and cost-effective campaigns are strongly inspiring and welcomed by the public. This should be leveraged more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lam,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, SM has been used for a while, this post is like my personal appeal to think about ads not only as a tool for achieving commercial purposes but for solving social issues as well.
      Marketing is a power and it’s not only about ROI and KPIs 🙂


  2. Well, so far so good, You have improved quite a lot Elena. Post looks awesome and is read smoothly. However, as always lets go back to topic 🙂 I don’t know whether it is good or bad, bad nowadays the easiest, fastest and most powerful way to reach the crowd is media. It is good, because as you have mentioned, you can use it to lead people, inspire them, show them the realities and make them be aware of problems. It is bad, when people are using it as a war weapon and provide lots of misleading infos. However, let’s stick to the good side of it. Don’t know about others, this ads you have mentioned of do make me think for a second or so, they provide stories that are touching, and often real. and make you look back on your life and say how Rich you are, in all meanings of that word.
    I might be wrong or stupid, but in my Opinion one of the best Inspirational/Touching Ads makers are Thai people. Here is my small list of videos produces by them, that I think you have watched most of (or all of them):

    Give without expecting to get something back –
    Give, but know that one day it will return to you even if you didn’t expect –
    Family is everything + you don’t have to fall deep down to then rise up –
    Love is shown by actions, not by words –
    ‘Disconnect to Connect” –
    Some things never change, even in the digital age –

    Looking forward to see the new ones,

    Best Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, Elena. I think a more human and social approach can be used in this field. The use of advertising by charities is a good example of that, most of those campaigns are really inspirational and enlightening. I love the the ones from Greenpeace and NAPCAN, in particular the campaign “Children do, Children see”. I leave the link, if you want to have a look 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Laura, what a great example!
        I definitely love it, we should be more attentive to people and children around us, and this kind of ads will certainly help us to be so 🙂
        Thank you for your comment and this brilliant video!



    2. Hi Eldar,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and these ads!
      Thailand is famous for its emotional advertising, even sometimes it’s too naive in my opinion.
      I like the first video, which once again remind you to think that money is not everything 🙂



    3. Agree with you on the ads in Thailand. I’ve watch ad of Pantene and an local insurance company, they are all touching, nothing about the product features but it keeps me memorize the brand for a while. Thai marketers put one step ahead onto empowerment marketing rather than inadequacy marketing, I guess.


  3. Quite a controversial topic I have to say. Your point of view is pretty clear. At same time I think a social advertisement itself can be as annoying as the commercial one. When you have to filter tons and tons of information everyday it is very easy to pass it by and keep on doing what you was doing. Touching ads are very very rare. It is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack. Meanwhile screaming and pushing ads makes feel nothing but disgust.


    1. Gulam, thank you for your comment and opinion!
      I agree, the topic is very controversial indeed, that’s why it’s very important to know when and where to stop for avoiding creation of annoying ads 🙂
      At least, examples which I mentioned have been made by professional creative agencies and for me it’s like arts, not ads.



  4. Very good point Elena. Although social advertising has been around for ages, it’s hard to judge its effectiveness – there are no sales statistics to look at. Major challenge is to convince people to change their behaviour, rather then just make them aware of the issue.
    There was a famous campaign in Australia about considerate behaviour on public trains. Wonder how effective it was there, as similar stuff in London seems to make little difference:
    But one should not stop trying to spread the message…


  5. Vlad, thank you for your comment!
    Good point about measurement of effectiveness. There is another approach here, as SM doesn’t have anything with sales for such campaigns we can track traffic on the site, number of registrations, donations etc. Conversion rate is a key factor as well, in other words we can track how many among registered people have really made a donation.

    Good example of Australian campaign, thank you for sharing it! 🙂



  6. I think advertising has its uses apart from the commercial one. It keeps us informed of new products and developments all the time. In a sense we are connected to the world and popular culture through Advertising. Of course, this is not the only medium to do do but certainly one of the dominant ones in our times. Secondly, Advertising keeps us entertained. There are times when the advertising is more entertaining than the featured program.


  7. I personally love ads without mentioning the product features, say more like emotional and inspiring. In that way, I don’t have a feeling that they are trying to (fool me) to sell something, thus, it’s much more enjoyable to watch and of course, take in the message+ remember the brand. Might be an insight for marketers 😉


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