Advertising with a Social Cause

I was born in Colombia and lived there a few years before my family uprooted to the United States. The country has gone through many years of civil conflict and despite efforts from the government and other parties, there is still much unrest in the country. The purpose of this post is not to get into the politics of the matter, but rather to show how marketing and advertising can be used for more than just making money.

The other day, I came across this article in The Miami Herald. The article describes efforts by Colombia’s Ministry of Defense to try to get guerrilla members to defect. Since 2010, the Ministry has joined forces with Lowe-SSP3 ad agency in Colombia to launch holiday campaigns that target guerrillas through emotional and disruptive ads  — the purpose of the campaigns being to hopefully cause them to defect, or at least consider it. According to the article, when the campaign was first launched in 2010, commandos put Christmas trees deep in the heart of guerrilla territory, complete with lights and a message that read: “If Christmas can make it into the jungle, you can make it home.”

This year, the campaign used the love of mothers to reach out to them. Here is an excerpt from the article describing the efforts:

“Working with the mothers of recruits, the firm has blown up baby photos of rebel fighters and emblazoned them with the message: “Before you were a guerrilla you were my child — This Christmas I’ll wait for you at home.”

Those posters are being plastered on village walls and hung in the jungle. At the same time, the campaign includes television spots and a web page,, featuring real mothers.”

You don’t have to be from Colombia to realize how amazing these campaigns are. They go beyond your everyday advertising of products and reach out to individuals at a human level. Check out this campaign video:

In case you don’t speak Spanish the video is available with English subtitles on the agency’s website:

I am curious to see the effect of these videos on the number of defects for the year. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure they play a role for many in their decision to defect.

Do you know of any other campaigns that focus on social causes like this? Which ones are your favorites?