Have you ever gotten home after a long day and were delightfully surprised by a package—or, let’s be honest, pile of packages—waiting at your front door? It’s one of my favorite things, and I like to think that my past-self bought a gift for my future-self. I usually don’t remember why my past-self bought the gift in the first place, because most of the time I bought it spur-of-the-moment. Dang persuasive ads.
But not all persuasive ads are created equally, and not all of them lead to delightful surprises. Here are 13 of the best, most effective persuasive ads we’ve ever seen—but first let’s make sure we’re clear on what persuasive ads do and why you’d want to use them.
Persuasive ads are advertisements designed to elicit a desired action, usually purchasing a product. Remember the persuasive essay assignments from school? In those, you were writing to convince your reader. Persuasive ads are similar—they aim to convince potential customers to buy the featured product.
If you’re advertising a product, this technique is powerful. Persuasion can be used in almost any of your marketing campaign—across television, digital, print, audio, billboards, even PPC. We looked far and wide across all of these mediums for the best examples of persuasive ads, and we rounded up 13 ads that are exceptionally persuasive. Let’s take a look at what these ads are doing well and, most importantly, how you can use these techniques in your own ads.
Streeteasy used the “Find your place” campaign to advertise their New York real estate mobile app. The campaign was posted all over subways throughout the city and highlighted sections of the city in a relatable way, because finding a place to live makes everyone feel a little bit like Goldilocks.
This campaign had a subtle, inside joke quality to it—everyone gets wanting to live within walking distance from your job—but also needing to be far enough away from your coworkers. Streeteasy leaned into the *nudge, wink* feeling of solidarity between city dwellers to evoke humor in the face of a daunting task: finding a new place to live.
What makes your product a great solution? What annoying problems does it solve? Lean into that. People are constantly looking for ways to make their lives easier; use your ads to persuade them your product will do exactly that.
Similar to daily newsletters, Curio is an audio-journalism app that is also trying to make your life easier. Now, you don’t even have to open an email to get a condensed version of the news! You can simply listen to it on your commute (NPR, you’ve got competition).
This ad has a lot going on. Not only is it video-based, with captions (as all video ads should be), it also includes a review and summary of the app in the ad copy. You’re getting hit from all directions with a ton of great reasons to download Curio.
It’s pretty easy to let your customers speak for you: Take this move from Curio and include a customer review in the copy. Or, even better, use it as the ad itself. Most importantly, though, Curio tells you upfront why you need this app: You’ll immediately become the most interesting person in the room. Make your value prop personal, and make it clear in the ad.
Confession: I get hit with these ads from Revolve constantly. Do I have an online shopping problem? Define “problem.”
The most persuasive part of this ad is the copy: “if you love it, buy it <3 (before someone else does).” Yes, the carousel of pretty clothes is great, but the copy creates a sense of urgency and appeals to a desire to be a part of a community. I have terrible FOMO and have to buy it before someone else does and wears my perfect outfit!
This ad does double duty, persuading you to convert by appealing to the viewer’s desire to be a part of a community and fear of missing out on that opportunity. Fear might not always be the best angle for every brand, but for fashion marketing—or if you’re selling, say, bear mace—this is right up your alley.
Crave created a video-based Instagram ad that looks and feels like user-generated content, maybe even something a food blogger would post. In this ad, you follow someone for five meals, watching as they get discount after discount on their food.
The persuasion in this ad isn’t very nuanced: The ad shows you exactly how to use the app and how much money you’ll save. Logical, right? That’s the simple, effective appeal here.
If your product is cheaper than other options out there, you’re in luck. You can persuade people with a logical display of how your option costs less money—or maybe even saves people money, like Crave. Show your audience that your product will not better their life, but will also better their bank account.
Like Streeteasy, OTTO is advertising a place to live. Unlike Streeteasy, though, it’s actually an apartment complex. That means OTTO can show off beautiful rooms and comfortable-looking beds in its advertisements.
Imagine loving your apartment so much that you never wanted to leave? This advertisement persuades their audience that the “endless amenities and laid-back atmosphere” of their complex will make you want to stick around (forever!?).
This campaign definitely evokes a feeling of laziness, comfort, and sloth. Don’t miss the kitschy, “A freak in the streets, asleep in the sheets” graphic poster behind the bed. Duplicate this persuasive ad by showing your audience your product’s soft, lazy side that just wants to watch Netflix all day.
Now I’m dreading going home to my own non-air-conditioned apartment…
This might be one of my favorite ad campaigns ever. A few years ago, Burger King quietly waged a war by promoting people’s tweets complaining about Wendy’s. It resulted in hilarity—and probably a lot of Whopper purchases.
Burger King didn’t have to do much leg work on this one. In case you’re wondering how they promoted other people’s tweets, Twitter will let you do this if you get permission from the user! These ads definitely got some laughs over this. And, with this campaign, Burger King let customers—albeit disgruntled ones—do the talking, which gives a bit more weight to the message.
If you’re feeling bold, check out the complaints on social media aimed at your direct competitor. Pick the one that you think best applies (this product broke/is too expensive/doesn’t work!) and see if you can promote or repost it. Let your competitor’s detractors be your best advocates.
Apparently, Ed Sheeran is Heinz Ketchup’s biggest fan. This silly commercial is part of Heinz’s ad campaign in the UK right now, where the company is attempting to get ketchup just as popular there as it is in the US.
Ed Sheeran charming, and he narrates the commercial as though it’s a pitch. The effect makes it feel like you’re watching a movie clip instead of an ad. He convinces you that all the “posh” food and sauces are nothing without his backpack-based Heinz.
If your brand is big enough—or lucky enough—to have a fan like Ed Sheeran, you should be all set. However, if your celebrity fanbase is a bit smaller, think about working with influencers. Persuasive ads are usually very on-brand for social media personalities.
Pro tip: Find an influencer that’s more niche. That way, you can target a specific audience you’re looking to convert, often at a lower cost.
I’m a big fan of HP’s most recent persuasive ad campaigns (see: hang however), but this one takes the cake. For some terribly relatable, Gen-Z-focused content, watch the video.
This ad is specifically targeting the fact that you can flip a switch and turn your computer’s camera off (no need for those tiny, attachable shades anymore), which means you can be anywhere with your computer … but no one can see you. It persuades you that having an HP computer means that you’re safe and sound being completely yourself.
This is targeted at a specific audience, which is a good thing to keep in mind when brainstorming persuasive ads. Think about a concern your audience has about your product and show them why it’s a non-issue.
This little display ad has been following me around since my mom came to visit me. Go figure.
Not only does this display advertisement boast that Clorox is trusted by moms generally, they added a review from “sydney2” (presumably a mom) at the bottom. This is reminiscent of basically any paper towel or cleaning product commercial—moms know best when it comes to cleaning up after messy, tiny humans.
Think about the main demographic using your product. If you’re selling running sneakers, it’s easy to say “Trusted by two million runners,” assuming you’ve sold two million pairs of shoes. Brag about who trusts your product to persuade more people to trust it. Simple!
This is one of my favorite out of home advertisements. Parachute ran a campaign basically reminding us all that we’d rather not be on a city street but at home, in bed.
Relatable content at its best: Who hasn’t hit the snooze button and mumbled, “just five more minutes”? Parachute is literally persuading people to spend more time in bed sleeping. Everyone loves sleep.
Think about how your product provides a universal good. Be brutally simple—and glorify that simplicity. Does it satiate your hunger? Keep you dry on a rainy day? Make your audience yearn for that feeling.
This is an interesting one—I stumbled on this ad when I googled “restaurant reservations nyc,” expecting to see ads from OpenTable, Resy, Seated, or other similar reservation-booking platforms.
I’m a big fan of the line, “Wherever you join us, The Palm will always feel like home.” The Palm has three locations in New York (and one in JFK airport). New York City can be a big scary place, but The Palm is confident it can be your home away from home, a safe place to relax.
This ad is persuasive because it makes the unfamiliar familiar. Sometimes buying a new product can be scary. (I have older family members who are terrified to buy a new brand of orange juice, for instance.) Give your audience a level of comfort with your product that will persuade them to covert.
Okay, I know you’re thinking, “Really? Two food-related ads?!” But I’m a hungry person, and I’m passionate about pizza. And I saw this advertisement on (drumroll, please) … BING!
I don’t know a single person on this planet that would turn down cheese-filled bites delivered to their door (okay, maybe psychopaths).This text ad pulls out all the stops. It stresses convenience, time-sensitive promotions, and options galore. How could you not click through?!
While sometimes you want to provide a simple solution to a simple problem, this ad provides a plethora of options to solve a simple problem (pizza delivery near me). Play to people’s pain points or weaknesses, like hunger, to convince them that they need your product—like right now.
This is an interesting ad, because it’s not *really* an ad. It is aimed toward Lyft drivers, instead of passengers, as a nod to their “other lives,” or the reasons that they drive for Lyft. Maybe they’re caretakers, aspiring actors, or people just trying to make ends meet through a side hustle.
It works because it gave Lyft an opportunity to show their support for their own employees. Yes, I know in the beginning I said no branding in true persuasive ads. This one is just doing double duty. The ad is persuading people to become Lyft drivers by thanking their current drivers.
Take the time to celebrate your own employees, the people behind your wonderful products. With so many new direct-to-consumer brands out there, your audience wants to know that you’re a real company, offering real products, made by real people. Show them that.
Persuasive ads can feel like they need a lot of production and effort. But no need to hire an advertising agency just yet! Use the list above as inspiration and if you ever get stuck figuring out what is so special about your product, I like to keep the Deck of Brilliance in my back pocket. You got this!
Mary is a content writer/strategist at Starry, Inc. and an enthusiast of all things Internet. When she’s not writing words for work, you can find her eating extra-cheesy pizza while planning her next trip.
See other posts by Mary Lister
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