Untitled from Advertising for Humanity on Vimeo.

In my old life, a highway commute marked the start to my weekday. On most rides, I could barely keep my eyes open – coffee was about all that could hold my focus. Occasionally however, I’d get to bed early and wake up unusually refreshed and curious. These days called for something more than caffeine. So I invented a game to keep my mind moving.

I started paying attention to billboards. I’d look at the ad, make note of the brand behind it and then brainstorm a more meaningful way of allocating their media dollars. If it was a food company, maybe they could have spent the money revamping an outdated high school cafeteria; a car manufacturer, what if they just drove around offering rides to people who lacked access to sufficient transportation. Catching my drift?

What if advertising became more than a tool to drive consumer awareness and engagement, and also a catalyst for positive change? What if we threw convention out the window and challenged brands to aim for more than just a catchy slogan on the side of the road? If enough consumers responded to more meaningful initiatives, we could shift the paradigm. We’d pry even have less car accidents too.

Sure it’s a stretch. But that’s not to say it can’t be done. If fact, it already is being done thanks to an organization called Advertising for Humanity. I’m simply writing in hopes of inspiring more of it.

Advertising for Humanity helps humanitarian organizations succeed by transforming their brands. They also help consumer brands succeed by transforming their social initiatives. They’re the crazy ones actually creating sustainable change rather than merely talking about it – casting a vast, bright, promising light on the potential of advertising.

In just nine years, the charity events (Advertising for Humanity) marketed raised more money than the American Express Charge Against Hunger ($21 million), Pepsi Refresh ($15 million), Hands Across America ($34 million), USA for Africa ($66 million), Product (RED) ($150 million), Kiva ($100 million) and American Idol Gives Back, ($175 million) combined.