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Creating Ads with a Social Impact

Creating Ads with a Social Impact: A Beginner's Guide

Ads aren't just about pushing a product - they can also be used for social good. Social impact advertising has the power to drive action, change mindsets and create real-world change. 


Learn how to create ads with purpose, from how to craft an effective message to what platforms are best.


Define your goals and commitments. 


Before you start designing your ads, think about what goals you want to achieve and what commitments are necessary to make these goals a reality. 


Do some research on the issue you are raising awareness for, and create an action plan with clear objectives. 


Identifying specific actions will make it easier to measure the effectiveness of the ad campaign.


In this example, OnMyWay provides its users the ability to purchase Shake Shack with $5 free just for not texting and driving. 

OnMyWay Food


We like this ad because it promotes Shake Shack to the 127 million verified OnMyWay users, sponsors safe driving and saving lives, and benefits both companies with a great way to reward users for supporting a great cause. 


Research the target audience. 


Understanding the target audience is essential in creating an effective ad. Start by researching who your audience are and what drives them. Identify the demographics, interests, and values of the people you are targeting with your ad. 


Collect data on relevant trends, behaviors, and attitudes through surveys, focus groups, or online research. 


This can give you valuable insights into how to tailor your message and create an engaging campaign.


If your target audience is renewable energy, supporting a recycling initiative or a solar company can help you get in front of the right audience. 


This example from iDesign features their plastic recycling initiative. For a company that produces consumer products made from recycled plastic, this transparency helps buyers know they are helping the environment when shopping with iDesign. 


iDesign recycling initiative

Brainstorm and develop ideas. 


Once you have identified your audience, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your campaign. This is the creative part! Generate a list of potential concepts and collaborate with team members. Identify what makes the core message unique, memorable, and appealing. 


Brainstorm visuals, messages, stories, calls to action, and other creative elements that will make up the ad. 


Then refine your concept, create a storyboard and develop a narrative for the campaign.


Here are some social impact examples that your business can focus on.


  • Academic Impact. 
  • Cultural Impact. Cultural impact is when research contributes to the understanding of ideas, reality, values, and beliefs.
  • Economic Impact. 
  • Wellbeing impact. 
  • Policy impact.
  • Environmental impact.
  • Social Impact.
  • Training Impact


Develop a messaging strategy. 


Good messaging is essential to any successful advertising campaign. To ensure your message resonates with viewers, take time to identify the strategic points and objectives you want to convey. 


Think carefully about the language: 


  • What words should be used? 
  • Will they provoke a reaction? 


Gather references that serve as starting points and ground them in the beliefs of your target audience. Then workshop the messaging alongside team members until it’s just right.


In this example from OnMyWay, they are promoting a free wellness perk for their users. We love this initiative because it targets an initiative that everyone can get behind. Employees, employers, and community members. Partnering with OnMyWay provides instant access to employee benefits such as free gas, food, and wellness. 


OnMyWay wellness social impact


Use visuals to increase impact.


Visuals can be powerful tools to help tell your story. They can give viewers an instant connection to the message being conveyed and draw more attention to your ad. Select relevant visuals that are simple, and striking, and reinforce your tone and messages. 


When choosing visuals, think carefully about placement as well as color and texture - they must be chosen carefully to gain maximum traction.


Want to create a social impact ad that gets attention? Contact Company InFocus to help you meet your campaign goals and grow your business.

Natalie Nyugen

Natalie Nyugen / About Author

Research analyst and contributor on Company InFocus. B.A. in International Marketing from Rutgers Business School.