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Spot on Spots: Effective PSAs


On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control launched a $54 million anti-smoking campaign. This national campaign focuses on the real effects of tobacco usage. Called “Tips from Former Smokers,” television spots and print ads feature former smokers, all of whom suffer from various diseases and conditions including amputations, stoma, heart attacks and strokes. Most writers describe these ads with the word, “graphic,” and seem to focus on the fact that the images are so “graphic.” Here’s the ad that I thought was most powerful:

In my opinion, I say there’s nothing crazy innovative about these ads, and there’s nothing awful about them.

Here’s why:
I’ve seen effective PSAs that use truly graphic, oftentimes gory, images to get their point across. I’ve also seen poignant, non-violent ads that depict the reality of disturbing everyday events. To me, these new anti-tobacco ads are just…meh. Ok. And that’s NOT the kind of reaction you want with a PSA.

The following ads happen to be some of my favorite PSAs. They’re not gross, but I’ve found them incredibly memorable.
This ad is about the sometimes endless cycle of domestic abuse. Creative. Emotional. Just plain good.

The copy in this ad is outstanding, and the young actor is excellent. Unfortunately it was banned due to the fact that there is only a male abuser.

Social Media Coordinator, Julia Giacoboni, shared this body image PSA with me. Interesting statistics, simple and to the point.

Body Image PSA from Vianca Lugo on Vimeo.

Some of the most horrifying PSAs I’ve seen come from Canada. This series of ads is meant to increase public awareness about workplace accidents. Stay on your game, stay focused…or you’ll melt your face off, fall through a glass table and do other cringe-worthy stuff. So, yeah. There are some really disgusting PSAs out there. But I happen to have remembered these babies since I first saw them in 2009. However, many people will remember it for the wrong reasons. As the top commenter so eloquently put it, “Holy sh*t, there’s a difference between raising awareness and f**king scarring you for life.”

anti smokingpsapublic service announcementsspot on spotsTelevision