How does social advertising work?

Advertising allows you to communicate to a large number of targets to generate interest in a product or service. Contrary to commercial advertising, the objective of social advertising is to change the behaviour of its target, or make it adopt a new behaviour, for its medium or long term well-being, while requiring deprivation.


The citizen has behaviours that are harmful to him or to the community that need to be changed. Social advertising makes it possible to communicate these facts. The government and foundations are its followers and act on a non-profit basis. Altruism can be used to encourage better habits for the collective well-being, or to fight bad habits. Businesses and professional bodies can use it to encourage the use of a product or service. However, it would be less credible if they do not expect any financial return at the end of the campaign. Even if social advertising does not necessarily involve an expense for the target, it entails hardships or constraints that take the target out of its comfort zone, initially, before it benefits them.


To be effective, social advertising must highlight the benefits of changing behaviour. Accuracy is the best ally in this regard, by adding numbers and statistics, for example. This makes it possible to attribute the best qualities of men to them, and they will be flattered. On the other hand, one must avoid the inconveniences they cause, or do it with humour to lessen their impact. This helps to point out the disadvantages of the behaviour, while showing that change is within everyone's reach. It is even possible to add profits through refunds or gifts for those who decide to change. Finally, the change must generate pleasure for the individual and the community.


The purpose of social advertising is to communicate facts or actions that the target is not aware of. It informs not only about the harms of his habit, but also about the benefits he could gain by changing it. Its attractiveness encourages change to become a better person, or to make the world a better place. It also allows to give solutions to have a better life, for personal or collective well-being. A commercial enterprise, if it is credible, can improve the image of the brand, or even the notoriety of the company, because it can underline its involvement in the community. It also allows those who have already joined the cause to remember the benefits they have derived from it, to encourage them to continue, and to become ambassadors.
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