Summer is drawing to a close and — between the World Cup and unexpected heatwave in the United Kingdom — it’s been quite a summer.

There have been some great topical ads in news brands celebrating the sunshine and semi-finals in eye-catching, funny ways. But, in recent months there have also been some brilliant, hard-hitting ads that have given pause for thought and shown how stand-out ideas and creative print executions can demand the attention they deserve.

Hey Girls UK drew attention to period poverty in the United Kingdom.
Hey Girls UK drew attention to period poverty in the United Kingdom.

Hey Girls UK: Created by adam&eveDDB, the ad features a cut-out sanitary pad to draw attention to period poverty in the United Kingdom. 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 is rarely talked about.

Greenpeace: 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 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.

Though the World Cup is exciting, the National Centre for Domestic Violence pointed out this is also a time when domestic violence is on the rise.
Though the World Cup is exciting, the National Centre for Domestic Violence pointed out this is also a time when domestic violence is on the rise.

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV): There was a lot of celebration when England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup. For the NCDV, this was an opportunity to draw attention to a distressing fact: “Domestic violence increases by 26% when England plays. 38% if they lose.”

The print ad, depicting a bleeding nose in the form of St. George’s flag, is a powerful reminder of domestic abuse. The fact 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 that gets straight to the point and captures attention; the empty frame creates intrigue.

All of the above show how newspaper ads can be used to deliver serious messages without sacrificing creativity. The fact they’re in print means 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.