Whereas the objective of a standard advertisement is to market a product, a public service announcement ad is intended to change the public interest, by raising awareness of a social issue, affecting public attitudes, and potentially stimulating action. Advertising examples, in its non-commercial guise, is a powerful educational tool capable of reaching and motivating large audiences on global issues.

“Advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest—it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes.” Attributed to Howard Gossage by David Ogilvy.

Let’s take a look at some of the best Ambient Public Interest Ads ever created. Though be warned – the issues discussed in them are not the most pleasurable ones. This list includes such problems as human trafficking, the pressing matter of global warming and the struggles with domestic violence just to name a few.

1. ACAT Campaign Against Torture: Back Of Seats

“Victims are people just like you and me. acat.ch Christian campaign to abloish torture.” (Advertising Agency: Advico Y&R, Zurich, Switzerland)

2. Colorado State Patrol: Billboard Collision

“Tailgating Isn’t Worth It. Give Trucks Room. It’s The Law.” (Advertising Agency: Amélie Company, Denver, Colorado, USA)

3. Quit: Premature Ending

An ambient campaign that addresses smokers when they are reading. Iris, London slipped a specially designed page into physical books and Kindle – towards the end of books, readers come to a page that reads: “THE END. If you smoke, statistically your story will end 15% before it should. For help with quitting, call the Quitline 0800 002200”. (Advertising Agency: Iris London, UK)

4. Police: Slower is Better

Advertising Agency: Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee, USA

5. Crisis: Snow Bed

Loving the snow? Try sleeping in it. Help get homeless people out of the cold for good.crisis.org.uk (Advertising Agency: Rapp, London, UK)

6. The Father Bob Maguire Foundation: Bins

For the homeless, every day is a struggle. Donate today and help us feed the homeless. (Advertising Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Australia)

7. Anti-smoking: Big Smoke

A car, crushed by a 7-foot cigarette, grabbed attention for National Non-Smoking Week and the British Columbia Lung Association. The car was placed at the Vancouver Art Gallery and used let people know that each year several thousand British Columbians die from smoking-related causes, while only a few hundred die in car accidents. (Credit: Smak, Vancouver)

8. Jobsintown.de: The Ass-Kisser Project

“There are better ways to make career.” (Advertising Agency: Scholz & Friends, Hamburg, Germany)

9. Road Safety: Bleeding Billboard

Rain changes everything. Please drive to the conditions. (Advertising Agency: Colenso BBDO, Auckland, New Zealand)

10. Cleo Magazine Against Breast Cancer

Advertising Agency: unknown

11. Check The Gas

Translation: “Gas Service – 04 /Check the gas/ Create yourself a life” Advertising Agency: unknown

12. Luxembourg Government: Human Trading

Advertising Agency: Mikado Publicis Luxembourg

13. Jaipurfoot: Boy

Jaipurfoot is a specially designed artificial limb/ prosthetic for helping disabled people regain their independence, at almost no charge. This endeavor was started by Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), a non-profit organization established in 1975. Today, it has revolutionized the lives of thousands of amputees all across the world. (Credit: Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai)

14. Belt Up

Advertising Agency: unknown

15. China Organization Against Domestic Violence: Uncover

“Cover it or Uncover it?” (Advertising Agency: DDB Shanghai, China)

16. WWF: High Temperatures Are Killing Polar Bear

“By maintaining right indoor temperature in winter, polar bears can survive” (Advertising Agency: A and B2, Seoul, South Korea)

17. Ministry of Health: Clogged Straw

“High blood cholesterol will do the same to your arteries. Watch what you eat.” (Advertising Agency: Fischer Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal)

18. Smoking & Tobacco Addiction Relief Center: Cars

Advertising Agency: JWT, Atlanta, USA

19. Kolestor: Zipper

“It’s not that easy…But it’s easier to prevent.” Effective in preventing major cardiovascular events. (Advertising Agency: Grey Worldwide Istanbul, Turkey)

20. Government of the State of Santa Catarina: Boy

Campaign against violence and child sexual abuse. Stay on our side. Report it. (Advertising Agency: Propague Comunicação, Florianópolis, Brazil)

21. Greenpeace: Toiler Paper

Advertising Agency: Guangdong, Beijing, China

22. Breast Cancer Awareness: Mousepad

Frequent massaging breasts enables you detect breast cancer before it strikes. (Advertising Agency: Lem, Shanghai, China)

23. Akanksha Foundation: Child Labour

“With each sip, you’ve helped spread child labour.” (Advertising Agency: AMO Communications Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India)

24. WWF – Save Paper – Save the Planet

Advertising Agency: unknown

25. The Prevention Beer Mug

Men in Czech Republic consume the most beer in all of the Europe. Unfortunately, the beer changes many of them into aggressors upon arriving home. In order to stop this domestic alco-violence, advertising agency redesigned the trademark beer mugs of their client Bernard brewery to preventatively warn its beer drinkers to not lose control over their drinking. (Advertising Agency: unknown)

26. Amnesty International: Hanging

Advertising Agency: Tribal DDB, Hamburg, Germany

27. Serve: Manhole Cover

“Don’t let child abuse remain unseen.” (Advertising Agency: SERVE, Milwaukee, USA)

28. First Poster That Responds To People Looking At It

“It happens when nobody is watching” Advertising Agency: Jung von Matt, Hamburg, Germany

29. Abused Handles

Social advertisement against woman abuse in Indonesia. (Advertising Agency: JWT, Indonesia, Jakarta)

30. Amnesty International

“Thousands are held prisoners for their beliefs in places worse than this. Write until you free them all.” Amnesty International. (Advertising Agency: TBWA, Warsaw, Poland)

31. SunSmart Cancer Council Western Australia: Cut Out

“Cutting your sun exposure is easier than cutting out a skin cancer. Free 30+ sunscreen. There is nothing healthy about a tan.” (Advertising Agency: Cooch Creative, Perth, Australia)

32. Greenpeace: Tree

“Deforestation continues with the turn of a page” (Advertising Agency: LINKSUS, Beijing, China)

33. Hellhole

“How many more lives will cost $1.25? Please call 010-62357575 to report manhole cover theft so we can put an end to this.” (Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Beijing, China)

It’s not that easy… But it’s easier to prevent. Effective in preventing major cardiovascular events.

Advertising Agency: Grey Worldwide Istanbul, Turkey