How to deliver serious messages without sacrificing creativity

Newsworks' Jessie Sampson takes a look at recent newspaper ads which have stood out for their creativity, while delivering hard-hitting messages at the same time. 

Summer's drawing to a close and – between the World Cup and unexpected UK heatwave – it's been quite a summer. There's been some great topical ads in newsbrands celebrating the sunshine and semi-finals in eye-catching, funny ways. But in recent months there have also been some brilliant, hard-hitting ads which have given pause for thought and shown how stand-out ideas and creative print executions can demand the attention causes such as the below deserve. For example:

Hey Girls UK

Created by adam&eveDDB, the ad features a cut-out sanitary pad to draw attention to period poverty in the UK. On the reverse of the page the copy reads 'One in 10 girls in the UK can't afford sanitary products. Every month they're forced to use loo roll, socks or even newspaper'. The ad's visual simplicity immediately creates impact while the text is a stark reminder of an issue that rarely gets talked about.


The print execution of Greenpeace's latest campaign comes in poem form from the perspective of a little girl and a 'rang-tan' made homeless by deforestation. When the girl asks the orangutan why he's wound up in her bedroom the answer is: 'There are humans in my forest / And I don't know what to do. / They're burning it for palm oil / So I thought I'd stay with you.' The poem ends with the little girl vowing to fight for the orangutan and share his story. 

National Centre for Domestic Violence

There was much celebration when England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, but for NCDV it was an opportunity to draw attention to a distressing fact – 'Domestic violence increases by 26% when England play. 38% if they lose.' The print ad, depicting a bleeding nose in the form of the St George's flag, is a powerful reminder of domestic abuse. The fact that it was published at a time when the vast majority of ads were celebratory World Cup messages only increased its impact. 

Ambitious about Autism

This simple but effective ad sports an empty frame – the type school photos are presented in – and the statement 'Every day a child with autism is denied an education. Let's put them back in the picture.' It's a no frills ad which gets straight to the point and captures attention; the empty frame creating intrigue.

All of the above show how newspaper ads can be used to deliver serious messages but without sacrificing creativity. The fact that they’re in print means that readers have time to absorb copy as well as the imagery. They are strong examples of how print ads can drive attention and deliver important messages effectively.

This piece was first published by INMA

These are strong examples of how print ads can drive attention and deliver important messages effectively

Jessie Sampson, communications manager, Newsworks
by Jessie Sampson 20/09/18

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