After researching different public service announcements and popular advertisements there are a few important points that we can conclude about both of them. On one side, public service announcements more ofter than not use symbolism heavily to portray their message. Alongside symbols and metaphors, they also tend to play on negative emotions provoked in people with their imagery to drive their message deeper and make people actually think about what they’re talking about. These emotions and appeals can include those of fear, self-image, disgust and others. In the advertisement about quitting smoking, instead of portraying long term effects of smoking to a younger generation, the PSA appeals to the younger generation by making a point that smoking will ruin your skin and teeth in a very graphic way. In the drinking and driving PSA, it plays on the fear of getting caught driving while intoxicated. In a similar fashion, the PSA about texting and driving invokes feelings of guilt from the audience because the teenager is about to ruin the life of a mother and two young children. This is what all of these PSAs have in common, and also this is where their success comes from.
In contrast, advertisement commercials are trying to sell us a product or a service by doing the exact opposite. They usually rely on appealing to the positive side of the spectrum of emotions. The other difference between PSAs and regular product commercials is that they do not target a specific group of people. The purpose of a product or service advertisement is to reach out to as many people as possible. For example, in the VW “The Force” ad, the entire commercial is… well… cute. Everyone loves little kids, especially when they’re doing adorable things. This commercial can speak out to a vast diversity of people, and it also has a very “regular” feel to it. By “regular” I mean it’s showing a happy family, living in a house, the businessman dad, the stay at home mom, and the little kid running around the house. It speaks to a lot of people. This is the core difference between PSAs and Ads.