The challange of PSA advertising.

In a world where there is more information available in the Sunday newspaper than the average person living in the middle ages encountered in his entire lifetime, advertising is a tough sell particularly PSA (Public Service Announcement) advertising. We live in an age of instantaneous gratification so when it comes to ads unless they grab our attention immediately if only for a few seconds. Given this, PSA advertising has the hardest job. The problem the goal of a PSA ad isn’t to sell a product or service (which automatically assumes a benefit to the audience) but to sell a cause. Unfortunately people are more selective in which causes they associate themselves with as opposed to the products and services they associate themselves with. Furthermore it’s a whole lot easier to fall into one of the many advertising pitfalls when dealing with PSA adverts such as offending your audience or coming off in the wrong tone (most common of which is being too preachy). The most successful PSA advertisements manage to make the audience feel like they can relate to the cause being championed by making it personal without smothering them with guilt.

To exemplify what makes a good PSA ad lets take a look a an advertising for amnesty international raising awareness of China’s numerous human rights violations.


The central concept in these ads is the juxtaposition of the familiar (the Olympic games) and the unexpected (the torture of humans). Each ad effectively puts the viewer in an uncompromising and uncomfortably close position to the disturbing imagery.? This is achieved with a low perspective, in your face perspective.? ? ? What this achieves is making you feel for the cause without making you feel guilty.

1 comment for “The challange of PSA advertising.

  1. uriah
    March 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    wow this is torture

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