In recent years, it seems like every major company has produced at least one ad that is less about their brand and more about the world where they (and we all) live.
Social good advertising, or when a brand/company uses its ad dollars to promote a cause or issue, has been around for a while, decades even. But I doubt you can remember one from more than five or six years ago. That’s because, without the Internet, social good advertising is an infant struggling to scoot along a hardwood floor. Social good advertising could simply not survive without the Internet.
Why is that? Aren’t ads that have such a strong and powerful message more likely to capture consumers attention than their purely commercial counterparts? Aren’t they the ones we tell our colleagues about around the water cooler at work the next day, leaving behind the banal office gossip? Shouldn’t these ads spur us into action when most of the time, we are content to sit passively on our couches? Well, yes.
But without the on-demand, click-and-share capabilities we find sitting at a keyboard, social good advertising only does a little bit of good. The Internet is fast and easy, allowing us to share something that we see with hundreds, thousand, potentially millions of others. So when we see something, we agree (or disagree) emotionally, and politically online, all it takes is copying a link and heading over to Facebook to increase the word-of-mouth spread the ad would have experienced (before the Internet) exponentially, going viral.
When social good messaging/advertising goes viral, it makes me feel a little better about the world. It serves as a memory of why the Internet truly is a good thing. So often, we see videos of rude 13-year-olds with a poor sense of grammar and pronunciation blowing up on the Internet and cashing in on the ‘fame’ that it makes you feel even worse about the state of the world. And before you get up on that high horse, I know that there are plenty of worse things going on around the world than annoying people on the Internet. But that’s kind of my point.
When a social good ad goes viral, it reminds us all of the issues the world is facing, the issues that we may have forgotten in our daze of cat gifs and hashtags. It reminds us that there is something more important going on. It reminds us that people, even if only a fraction of the world population, actually care and that we should too.
I know that sharing a social good ad only does so much good, that there is always more to be done, off the Internet. But by sharing, you give that ad a little more life. You’re offering up one more push to help it get into the right hands, even if those could be your own. It’s small, yes. It could be more, yes. But it’s a start. And who knows where it may eventually lead.