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Encyclopedia > Public service advertising

Public Service Advertising (also Non-commercial Advertising)

 "Advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest - it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes." - Attributed to Howard Gossage by David Ogilvy 

Advertising, in its non-commercial guise, is a powerful educational tool capable of reaching and motivating large audiences. The same advertising techniques used to promote commercial goods and services can be used to inform, educate and motivate the public about non-commercial issues, such as AIDS, energy conservation, and deforestation.

Public Service or non-commercial advertising campaigns have existed in the United States since 1942. The best known proponents of public service advertising are the Advertising Council (Ad Council) and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), both are nonprofit organizations. Essentially this system operates as a cooperative venture by nonprofit organizations and private advertising and media companies. The key management and intermediary role is provided by the Ad Council or PDFA. For example, to produce a campaign on an issue, such as recycling, the Ad Council forms a "partnership" with a nonprofit organization, an advertising agency and the media industry. The nonprofit provides the program initiative that is to be advertised, while the participating advertising agency and media companies provide creative, media planning and dissemination services on a pro bono basis.

Non-commercial advertising, public service advertising, public interest advertising, issue advertising, cause-related marketing, public education campaigns and social marketing are different terms for (or aspects of) the use of sophisticated marketing communications techniques (generally associated with commercial enterprise) on behalf of non-commercial, public interest initiatives.

Non-commercial Advertising and the Public Interest

With science providing an ever clearer picture of the planet and our impact on it, we can no longer ignore serious environmental, public health, and population issues. Over the last thirty years a consensus has emerged within the scientific community: to meet the long-term threat posed by environmental degradation and population growth, a policy of sustainability must be adopted worldwide.

Presently, advertising is not being used widely on behalf of serious trans-national issues such as global warming, deforestation, family planning or AIDS education. Whatever the reason, advertising's potential as an educational tool is grossly under-utilized.

If we are serious about achieving a sustainable society, the power of mass communications must be mobilized on behalf of non-commercial public interest issues.

Advertising and Not-for-Profit Advocacy Organizations

At present, the global communications infrastructure is dedicated almost completely to commercial activities. And existing non-commercial advertising messages about serious environmental issues are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of commercial messages.

To compete effectively for public opinion and acceptance, not-for-profit advocacy organizations (NGOs) must begin to use sophisticated communications techniques, commonly associated with commercial martketing, to promote sustainable activities and business practices. It is imperative that the current system for funding, producing and disseminating non-commercial messages be strengthened and extended worldwide.

  Results from FactBites:
"Shouting To Be Heard: Public Service Advertising in a New Media Age" - Kaisernetwork.org (350 words)
Features the release of a new national study on public service advertising, which finds that broadcast and cable television networks donate an average of 15 seconds an hour to air public service ads (PSAs), representing just under one-half of one percent (0.4%) of all airtime.
Presentation of data from a Kaiser Family Foundation study on public service advertising.
Kaisernetwork.org is a free service of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Advertising - MSN Encarta (1569 words)
Advertising is so commonplace in the United States that an average person may encounter from 500 to 1,000 advertisements in a single day, according to some estimates.
Advertising agencies not only create the advertisements but also pay for the cost of placing the ad in a newspaper or magazine or on television or radio.
When the agency uses the client’s advertising budget to buy time for an ad on the radio or on television or when it buys space for an ad in a newspaper or magazine, the media outlet allows the agency to keep 15 percent of the cost of the space or the time as a commission.
  More results at FactBites »



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