When 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.

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

Watch: Persuasive Ad Techniques to Create Inspiring Ads

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 as 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.

Procter & Gamble - “The Talk”

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.

The spot concludes with a reveal: the woman at the store told the young girl she was “pretty for a black girl.” The mother instills in her daughter that she is beautiful, period.

Budweiser - “Stand By You”

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 ad!

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.

Coca-Cola - “The Wonder of Us”

An appreciation for uniqueness is on full display in this inspiring 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.

Ancestry.com - “Declaration Descendants”

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 inspiring ad used thorough research (logos) intrinsic to the brand to communicate a very moving idea.

Apple Earth - “Shot on iPhone”

“The earth is a very small stage,” says Carl Sagan, as beautiful imagery of beaches, rainbows, and mountains drift by. Nothing says "inspiring ad" like the beauty of our planet.

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.

Nike - “What Will They Say About You”

This inspiring ad ranks among the most inspirational Nike 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.

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

AFL Women’s  - “I’d Like to See That”

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.”

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 inspiring ad 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 inspiring ads can be crafted out of social experiments.

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.

Introducing Shot List Template and Storyboard Template Builder - Add New Shot

Add your shots and storyboards to your shot list.

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.

How to Create a Shot List with StudioBinder - Shot List Creator Template - 6

Your signature inspirational ad is only a click away.

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: The best 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. 

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