Select Page

Public Welfare Advertising Game Changers

Much of public service and social goodwill advertising, as I’m sure we all know, goes unnoticed or unheeded. People still drink and drive for example, or text while driving.

And shock tactics in commercials have proven to be largely ineffective. Viewers see so many action movie scenes of people flying through car windscreens and broken bodies, that they have become increasingly unmoved by demonstrations that depict reality situations that are life-threatening or life-taking.

Many advertising communication practitioners realise that the simple solution is viewer persuasion. Effective, attention-getting persuasion that requires human insight, and game changing creativity.

1. Budweiser, Friends Are Waiting

Advertising Agency: Momentum Worldwide, New York, USA

This online, Public Service commercial by Budweiser about a young man and his Golden Labrador, was directed with emotive storytelling sensibility by filmmaker Gus Black.

Budweiser aimed to target active social media networkers in their twenties with their don’t drink and drive message, and it certainly succeeded.

The insightful use of ‘man’s best friend’ as an analogous message to employ designated drivers when out partying with friends was powerfully resonant.

10.8 million online views were motivated in four days and the commercial rapidly went viral increasing to 22 million views in the next two days on YouTube alone. Additional viewer interest was motivated by coverage of ‘Friends Are Waiting’ on all the major TV news channels.

The soundtrack, featuring the song ‘When You Come Home’, was specially created for the commercial by Dan Rodriquez.

2. Melbourne Metro Rail, Dumb Ways To Die

Advertising Agency: McCann, Melbourne, Australia

McCann’s animated, public safety commercial for Melbourne’s Metro Rail was an advertising game changer of note.
‘Dumb Ways To Die’ was the most awarded campaign ever, in the history of The Cannes International Festival of Creativity, winning a record breaking 5 Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, 3 Silvers, and 2 Bronzes.

After being released online, the commercial motivated over 50 million views in less than two weeks.

The soundtrack song, written by McCann’s Executive Creative Director John Mescall, and composed and performed by Australia’s Cat Empire, and Tinpan Orange bands, rocketed to the top 10 on Apple’s Australian iTunes charts within 24 hours.

The novel, integrated communication approach, of underlying the seriousness of the message, by entertainingly highlighting just how dumb it would be to ignore train commuting safety precautions, very effectively hit home.

The campaign’s multimedia impact dramatically increased safety awareness around trains in Melbourne as well as the rest of the world.

3. Organ Donor Network, Long Live New York

Advertising Agency: Y&R, New York, USA

New Yorkers are ranked second last in the number of registered organ donors in the United States.

Y&R New York concluded that a game changing approach was required for the challenging task of motivating New Yorkers out of their inaction, and decided to appeal to their proud sense of community spirit with an innovative, animated commercial.

Directed by Luxembourg film maker, and Academy Award winning animation producer, Laurent Witz, ‘Long Live New York’ is a superbly crafted, attention-getting commercial that is a delight to view.

The resonant soundtrack, performed by the Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra, was composed by Francois Rousselot.

‘Long Live New York’ made headline news on TV channels and was widely debated. Digital engagement company Major Systems at the time, reported a 200.2% increase in earned media mentions, an 11% increase in overall site visits, and a 6% increase in conversions since the campaign launch.

4. Donate Life, The World’s Biggest Asshole

Advertising Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Virginia, USA

The story of Coleman Sweeney, ‘The World’s Biggest Asshole’, was a brave decision by Donate Life to grab the attention of young people by using a crass description for an equally crass character.

To most young people ‘asshole’ is a familiar figure of speech used in daily conversations, and it seems they did not think the descriptor was inappropriate. The commercial was viewed more than 80 million times in 76 countries, was shared millions of times on social channels and received coverage on many news networks.

Donate Life went from 149 to 1,022 registrations per day, an increase of 586 percent. Also noteworthy is that being a nonprofit organisation, Donate Life had no production budget. The services of the Martin Agency, and everyone involved in the making of the film, were done free of charge.

Directed by filmmakers Will Speck and Josh Gordon, with Canadian actor Will Arnett providing the voice-over, the game changing campaign won 10 well deserved Cannes Lions.

5. NHS Blood and Transplant UK, Missing Type

Advertising Agency: WCRS Engine, London, UK

With over 600 million digital devices connected to AdBlock globally by people wanting to disengage from advertising, reaching out to blood donors, or any donors for that matter, becomes harder every day.

WCRS, London however, came up with a game changing idea that is brilliant in its communication simplicity, visual impact, relevance, and motivational participation.

Major brands enthusiastically embraced the agency’s idea of using their media presence to create a domino effect of missing letters of the alphabet related to blood types, in their brand identities.

New donor registration increased by 20,000 during National Blood Week compared to the previous year. It is estimated that the new total equated to the saving or improvement of over 100,000 lives.

Blood services from 21 countries joined NHS Blood and Transplant UK in an international drive for new blood donors that reached over two billion people.