hen brands tackle important issues, and use their massive reach to spread positivity, they create win-win content for their viewers. Making inspiring ads is no easy task.

But if you start with a genuine message and a firm understanding of how advertising techniques work, you can naturally stir up emotional responses from your audience.

In today’s post, we’ll look at some stunning and recent inspiring ads. We’ll focus on why their techniques delivered such inspirational advertisements.

Persuasive Ad Techniques to Create Inspiring Ads

The Most Inspiring Ads For 2019 That Every Agency Should See

The techniques behind inspiring ads

Inspiring ads are nothing new. Modern advertising techniques are based on ancient principles.

They are rooted in The Rhetorical Triangle which was created by Aristotle some 2,000 years ago.

Inspiring Ads and Commercials - Ethos Pathos Logos Triangle

Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle is the foundation of the best motivational commercials

The rhetorical triangle breaks down how messages travel between speakers and audiences. Basically, the speaker uses three appeals:

  • Pathos is an appeal to the audience’s feelings.
  • Ethos is an appeal to the speaker’s credibility.
  • Logos is an appeal to the audience’s logic, using facts and evidence.

The most inspiring ads use some combination of these appeals -- ideally all three.

Successful motivational, and inspiring ads add credibility to a brand (ethos) by showing a tangible issue that needs to be overcome (logos). If the message is clear and authentic, it stirs the audience emotionally (pathos).

See these appeals at work in the advertisement examples to follow.

Cinematic motivational advertisement 

Procter & Gamble - “The Talk”

Powerful advertisements on pathos

This inspiring ad begins with an African American woman asking a young girl, presumably her daughter, “who said that?” When the girl answers “the lady at the store,” the mother teaches her that what the woman said was “not a compliment.”

As the commercial continues, we see various African American parents encourage their children to persevere, strive for excellence and protect themselves against a world that can be unfair.

This dialogue between guardian and child is a use of pathos. Each dialogue brings out more and more emotion as the commercial elicits empathy in the audience. Pathos is great at creating powerful advertisements that stick with a viewer.

Meaningful ads that inspire

Budweiser - “Stand By You”

Motivational Advertisement by Budweiser

Budweiser built this positive commercial around the more than 79 million cans of drinking water it distributed to US cities rocked by natural disasters. Talk about an inspiring commercial!

At a time where natural disasters occur more often every year, this powerful advertisement combines kairos (timeliness) and pathos (emotion) to really get through to the viewer. 

As we hear Skylar Grey’s poignant cover of “Stand By Me,” we see Busweiser’s employees hard at work getting the job done. It closes on an employee’s satisfaction at seeing their contribution make the nightly news.

Meaningful ads that inspire

Coca-Cola - “The Wonder of Us”

Coca-Cola meaningful ads

An appreciation for uniqueness is on full display in this inspirational ad. We see Cokes enjoyed by an array of loyal customers whose appearance, activities and stories differ from one to the next. Similarly, the voice-over is performed by many different actors, which further underscores the importance of diversity.

Like many Coca-Cola ads, this one appeals to emotion through pathos. The combination of handheld shots* and close-up shots* of everyone from different walks of life, the audience feels a sense of intimacy and emotion, just as Coke intended. 


Ancestry.com - “Declaration Descendants”

Meaningful ads by Ancestory.com

Ancestry.com assembled a room full of Americans who descended from signers of the Declaration of Independence.  We observe the diverse group, hear them recite the Declaration, and are reminded to appreciate our origins.

This inspirational commercial used thorough research (logos) intrinsic to the brand to communicate a very moving idea. Through techniques such as time lapse shots and creative editing, we see the progression of a mural inclusive of all our ancestry. 


Apple Earth - “Shot on iPhone”

Motivational advertisement by Apple

“The earth is a very small stage,” says Carl Sagan, as beautiful imagery of beaches, rainbows, and mountains drift by. Nothing says "inspirational ad" like the beauty of our planet. Apple shows off its camera features such as high frame rate with incredible slow motion animal shots. 

Sometimes the proof in the pudding. By showing us photos and videos actually shot on iPhone, Apple utilizes logos. Viewers can understand the capabilities of the iPhone’s camera solely by looking at the shots and coming to a logical conclusion. 

Sagan's words remind us to take care of our home planet, as the images -- all shot on iPhones -- show off our world’s natural beauty. 

Most inspirational commercials ever

Nike - “What Will They Say About You”

Nike  •  Motivational advertisement

This motivational advertisement ranks among Nike’s best motivational commercials of recent memory. It begins with a young Arab woman who leaves her house for a morning run. As she passes disapproving neighbors, her voice-over (in Arabic) ponders what they say about her. As similar women’s stories play out (boxing, soccer, parkour), the voice-over empowers the audience to reach for more.

The editing of the advertisement creates a pace that crescendos into a climatic moment that is designed to be the most motivational. The ad also utilizes POV shots that bring us closer to the action and deeper into the ad. 

Nike consistently delivers solid motivational advertisements. For further watching, check out their “Find Your Greatness” commercial.

Meaningful ads for inspiration

AFL Women’s  - “I’d Like to See That”

Most inspirational commercials ever

The Australian Women’s football league released an inspiring ad that is simple in concept but sincere in execution. Several women (including equestrians, surfers, and newsreaders) state a thing they’d like to see, building a common theme of female empowerment in Australia. “Women riding high? I’d like to see that.”


Burger King - “Bullying Jr.”

Motivational advertisement by Burger King

Conversely, this Burger King spot presents a complex idea. Burger King staged a social experiment wherein a teenager (or “High School Jr.”) is bullied in one of their Los Angeles area restaurants.

This inspirational commercial subverts tropes.  

The onlookers who do not intervene are then served a “bullied” Whopper Jr. (i.e. squashed by an employee). Some 95% report their mangled sandwiches to management. They are then asked if they would have intervened had they seen an employee “bully” their burger. Their collective response is “yes.”

The focus then shifts to the meager 12% of customers who stood up for the High School Jr. We hear their words of encouragement which console the High School Jr

This spot shows that inspirational commercials can be crafted out of social experiments.

Most inspirational commercials ever

Behind the Mac — Greatness

Behind the Mac  •  Inspirational Ads

Although we’ve already listed an Apple ad on this list, it’s worth mentioning another approach they’ve taken for arguably one of their most inspirational commercials ever. 

The last Apple commercial we mentioned showcased what kind of photos and videos you can take with their product. This ad, however, shows where their products have taken some of your favorite artists, entrepreneurs, and trail blazers.

The commercial includes heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Spike Lee, and Jane Goodall working behind the gleaming Apple logo of a Mac. What could be more inspirational than telling the audience you can use the same tools that the most successful people in the world use?

Motivational commercials for inspiration

Amazon — The show must go on

The show must go on

The Coronavirus pandemic was discouraging to say the very least. Amidst the adversity of the pandemic, many advertisers found an opportunity to encourage consumers to push in through the hardship. Few advertisements did this better than Amazon. 

In this motivational advertisement, we follow the story of a young dancer whose performance is cancelled due to the pandemic. She must pave her own way to perform with the help of the community. And she does as she obtains resources through Amazon so that the show may go on. 

What works best in this motivational advertisement is its visual storytelling. With almost no dialogue, the entire ad carries out a full arc that inspires and motivates.

How to create motivational commercials

How to shot list your inspiring ad

So, you have the perfect idea for your inspiring advertisement. What do you do now? You need to put it in a shot list so your DP can anticipate and prep. Inspiring advertisements take lots of planning. You’ll have to scout for where to set up the camera, hire the crew, and get the script just right.

Specific camera movements matter too. Is your advertisement static? Are you tracking with someone, or in a helicopter? What about on a Steadicam or using a drone?

You want to capture all these crucial details in your shot list. With StudioBinder, these details are already listed as options, so you only need to check them. This allows you to create creative combinations that make your inspirational ad come to life.

To get a better idea of how easy and effective a StudioBinder’s software can be, click the link below where we broke down the Nike “What will they say about you?” advertisement into a storyboard.

Example Advertising Storyboard

Collaboration is fast and efficient. Send your shot list to the DP with the click of a button. The best part? We let you start shot listing for free. This gives you more time to think about the intangibles.


Up next

Creative Digital Ad Trends

There is a lot of static out there in the ad world. Even very creative ads can overload your senses and appeal to fears and insecurities.

Inspiring ads are like a breath of fresh air. They appeal to your sense of empathy, wonder and hope, and get behind positive issues that matter most in our world. 

After watching a commercial with a positive message, it’s hard not to appreciate the brand for making it. In this way, inspiring ads are a win-win.

For further reading, dive into the best digital ad trends so you can make sure your brand is up to snuff. 

Up Next: Digital Ad Trends →
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