Good Ideas

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), online magazine Campaign US recently featured the best ads over the past century. In the category of “social good,” Campaign US announced the Top 10 ads that “helped make the world a better place.”

Being in that social good advertising “space”, the team here at MORE took special interest in the featured campaigns.

At #1, created in the 1980s, Smokey the Bear passionately warned audiences: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” (Did anyone ask, like me, “For real? I’m the only one?”)

A more recent campaign from India, a country woefully lacking in gender equality, shows a dad having an epiphany while watching his daughter do ALL the housework. When it comes to helping around the house, the dad realizes that he and his son-in-law are sexist and clueless – and, one might add, lazy.

In the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign from 1983, two big mugs of beer crash head-on into each other. As a testament to its effectiveness, the 10-second spot spawned a quasi-industry of knockoff taglines, i.e., “Friends Don’t Let Friends (fill in the heinous behavior).”

“The Talk” presents a series of emotionally charged vignettes in which African American parents talk with their kids about the realities of racism and profiling throughout society.

The remaining top social good campaigns include:

  • #LikeAGirl expressed the necessity (and moral imperative) of improving self-esteem among young females.
  • “Love Has No Labels” creatively promoted diversity and inclusion in a long form video shot in public in Santa Monica, CA.
  • In 1985, Vince and Larry, two goofy, engaging “Crash Test Dummies” – no, not the rock group – endearingly warned us to wear seatbelts.
  • “The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love” recruitment campaign helped launch the Kennedy era Peace Corps in 1961.
  • “The Crying Indian” anti-littering campaign in 1971 helped reduce litter by 88 percent in 12 years.

Interestingly, when you follow the article’s link trail, you find recent “social good” campaigns – produced by MORE and other agencies – focused far more on public health issues, like drug misuse and the opioid epidemic. It’s the sign of the times.