Brands Harness the Power of the Ad to Tell Social Good Stories

Corporate ads have long held the ability to make us laugh, cry or cheer, but the top ads of 2013 accomplished much more. They educated and inspired us around important social issues.

As we noted in our "Top 10 CSR Trends of 2013" Triple Pundit article, ads with embedded social messages are becoming a powerful way for companies to connect with consumers. AdWeek's "Best Ads of 2013" validates this by declaring Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" and RAM's "Farmer" as the number one and two ads of the year, respectively. In what AdWeek deems as "the most viral ad campaign of the year," Dove seeks to change women's body perceptions by recruiting a criminal sketch artist to show the difference between how women describe themselves and how strangers see them. For its part, RAM paid tribute to the American farmer in a touching two-minute ad during the Super Bowl, which shows its support for the Future Farmers of America. (A pretty hefty investment as an average 30-second spot can cost upwards of $4 million.) Coming in at number nine on the list, Chipotle's "The Scarecrow," was an eye-opening, anti-factory farming ad featuring Fiona Apple. While the ads themselves are entertaining and interesting, they tell a higher-purpose story that reinforces each brand's commitment to a cause or issue.

Socially-conscious ads were the clear winners in 2013, beating out celebrities, talking animals and even crude bathroom humor. Leading companies recognized the need to invest marketing resources to share their do-good stories; producing longer ads (sometimes up to three minutes) and using major dollars to promote them. As consumers continue to seek valuable content from companies, those companies with authentic CSR commitments have the opportunity to create powerful, visual stories that will connect with consumers beyond the flash of an ad.

What social good ads have you seen lately? Share with us on Twitter using #ConeCSR


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