The key to a great PSA, no matter what the cause, is in its ability to make you care in a very short amount of time. I mean, you're not a heartless monster, obviously we all have empathy and compassion for any number of causes and issues. But these are campaigns aimed at taking those emotions a step further into action, whether just spreading the word by starting a conversation, or donating your time and money.
What makes the latest Sandy Hook Promise PSA by BBDO New York so incredible is its ability to get us emotionally attached to a story, then flip the script in a way that both illuminates the issue of gun violence, as well as our own susceptibility to complacency. As agency executive creative director Peter Alsante told me earlier this week, the key was in using a familiar and engaging story of high school love to bring us closer to the issue at hand. "We use that as a bit of a foil, to get people nodding their heads, feeling that they're along for the ride with a story they can relate to," he said. "Then we reveal to them this whole other story's been going on. We've worked our way in to making our story about gun violence into something that's relatable."
What: A heartwarming PSA that brilliantly illustrates the need to watch for warning signs of gun violence
Who: Sandy Hook Promise, BBDO New York
Why We Care: The beauty of the spot is how it thoroughly exposes how unaware we all can be. A perfect way for a PSA to raise our awareness to better see and hear the potential warning signs, not just against a worst-case school shooting scenario, but also those suffering from any number of personal problems, from depression to being in danger of inflicting danger on themselves.
What: Apple taps the Bard to showcase the iPhone 7's dual camera system.
Why We Care: While we've always enjoyed Apple's stylish and snappy product demo ads, it's nice to see them take a swing at their emo side—first with "Balloons" now this pint-sized production of a romantic classic.
What: A PSA on violence against children, animating the tattoos of the organization's long-term goodwill ambassador David Beckham
Who: Unicef UK, BlindPig
Why We Care: On paper it looks like a cheeky way of attracting attention via Beckham's exposed torso, but the execution is so well done it's actually a poignant way of using the permanence of tattoos to illustrate the effect of violence on children to their entire lives.
What: A hospital fundraising PSA from the Philippines uses the Force of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to help its children's ward.
Who: Globe Telecom
Why We Care: Using the latest Star Wars film as a charity vehicle for the children's ward at a hospital in the Philippines may be unique enough, but perhaps even more so is doing it through one of that film universe's most infamous bad guy characters. Echoes of VW for a good cause.
What: Probably the most emotional stool ad you'll ever see
Who: Ikea, Akestam Holst
Why We Care: Full disclosure: This spot didn't air this past week, but at some point in the last month. I just think it's one of the best in the brand's recent collection, which culminated in Ikea renaming its products after frequently Googled questions those products may help solve. While Retail Therapy is cute, ads like this—and how they make these basic products players in the emotions of everyday life—are the strongest part of the campaign.