Everything You Need to Know About Advocacy Advertising


Advertising is not solely for the Fortune 500s and the SMBs out there. Nonprofits often engage in a form of advertising too, known as advocacy advertising.

If you’re not privy to advocacy advertising, it’s our goal to make you. In this guide, we’ll explain this form of advertising in full and expound on its benefits.

Then we’ll share some of the most poignant, profound advocacy advertising examples to inspire your next campaign!

What Is Advocacy Advertising?

Advocacy advertising is a type of campaign that’s designed to get the public thinking about and ultimately deciding to support a particular message or cause.

Often, nonprofits will be the drivers behind these advertising campaigns, although not exclusively. Private groups will also utilize advocacy-led campaigns as well.

So what’s the difference between a traditional advertising campaign versus an advocacy campaign? That’s simple!

A commercial brand or company that’s paying for advertising – be it a big billboard on a busy four-lane highway or an Internet ad–is trying to attract more buyers to its products and services.

An advocacy advertisement is not about products or services. Rather, it’s about fueling interest and engagement around a particular topic.

These topics or concepts are often catered toward the public good. For instance, an advocacy ad about train or bike safety benefits no one but the person who sees the ad and rides public transportation.

The ad never sells a bike or a train, just tries to protect public welfare, which is a lot nobler.

Advocacy advertising is technically a form of advocacy marketing, but advocacy marketing is somewhat different.

Let’s go over the differences.

With advocacy marketing, marketers will take the best experiences from customers or users and then rely on those as the basis of the campaign.

There can be more promotional aspects to advocacy marketing that never exist in advocacy advertising.

Read also: How Your Business Can Grow Sales Using Persuasive Advertising

The Benefits of Advocacy Advertising

If a nonprofit or private group is not going to earn a direct profit by selling a product or service, then why engage in advocacy advertising to begin with? After all, they’re not going to make back the money they put into the advertising campaign either.

While that’s true, to these parties, it’s not about the money. Here are the motivations behind advocacy ads.

Raise Awareness

As much as you might try to be knowledgeable about the world around you, you can’t possibly fathom every issue and cause out there. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

An advertisement can be a great way for a nonprofit to raise awareness about a cause that might have otherwise eluded you in your day-to-day life.

If you become aware of a new cause or issue through the advertisement, then the ad has done its job and the campaign is a success.

Generate Exposure

It can be hard for nonprofits to gain exposure in the same way a for-profit business can. The lack of commercial elements can reduce how much interest someone has in a nonprofit’s message.

An advertisement that’s hard to ignore, such as a billboard, a social media ad, or an Internet ad is going to give the nonprofit or private group the exposure that they’ve been so desperately seeking.

You’ll recall that this exposure is not for them, but rather, for their cause or message.

That goes back to our point from before. The more people who are privy to that cause of message, the better!

Save Money

We established that a private group or nonprofit engaging in advocacy advertising does not recoup the money they spend on a campaign. That doesn’t mean they don’t save money.

Advertising comes in all sorts of forms. Some are a lot more expensive than others, such as radio and television, yet they just don’t have the reach that they did in decades prior.

Thus, by embracing some forms of advertising more so than others, a nonprofit or private group can still get the word out about their message or cause but not have to spend a large sum to do it. It’s a win-win.

Read also: 10 Epic Banner Ad Examples: Stupendously Creative!

Advocacy Advertising Examples to Inspire You

To wrap up, we have for you a series of advocacy advertising examples that will hammer home the importance of these messages.

1. Bicycles Don’t Come with Bumpers

Bicycles don't come with bumpers. Give cyclists room to ride. – Campaigns of the World®
Source: SendPulse

Now here’s a head-turning ad!

This ad about motorist safety for bicyclists sharing a road with them proclaims that “bicycles don’t come with bumpers.”

What stands out a lot more than the headline is the image of a helmeted woman cyclist with black tire treads along her face.

This ad displays the grisly reality of what can happen when drivers don’t want to share the road.

2. Dawn Dish Soap

Dawn 'Wildlife' Campaign: "Cleaning Oil Spills" Commercial
Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Advertising advocacy doesn’t solely have to come from nonprofits.

In the case of Dawn dish soap, they support their cause of saving animals from dangerous grease spills while also promoting their dish soap.

Maybe this is more in the vein of advocacy marketing, but it’s a great example, nonetheless!

Read also: 10 Remarkable Display Ad Examples and Why They Work

3. APAV Victim Support

Advocacy advertising - Definition | SendPulse
Source: SendPulse

This is another chilling example that proves how strong and effective advocacy advertising can be.

This ad for domestic abuse support shows a battered woman looking straight at the camera with her finger over her lips, a classic shoosh motion. It would certainly grab your attention if you saw it!


NNECA - National Network to End Child Abuse (@NNECA_) / Twitter
Source: Pinterest

NNECA protects children and women from sexual abuse.

In a series of ads much like this one, a person is shown looking at the camera without a mouth.

The point of the ad is to show that victims of sexual abuse rarely feel like they have anyone to talk to. It drives that point home very well.

Read also: Targeted Advertising Messages And How They Work



Advocacy advertising pushes a message or cause without the intention of promoting products or services.

Instead, the goal is to increase awareness and understanding of the cause — for the safety and betterment of society.

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