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October 25, 2014

Memorable and Shocking PSAs: Fried Eggs, Pee-Wee, Smokey and More

by Chris Harnick, posted Mar 19th 2010 4:00PM
A beautiful woman stands up, mystical lights have caught her attention. She follows them up a flight of stairs and embraces their allure. A perfume-style bottle appears and the woman is delighted ... until she sees the text on the bottle: cervical cancer.

This commercial caught our attention -- and that of the millions of Academy Awards viewers -- and is one of the most shocking public service announcements we've seen in a while.

The spot for GlaxoSmithKline's Help Prevent Cervical Cancer campaign is just one of many public service announcements that really caught our attention.

Check out our spotlight on other memorable PSAs after the jump.A beautiful woman stands up, mystical lights have caught her attention. She follows them up a flight of stairs and embraces their allure. A perfume-style bottle appears and the woman is delighted ... until she sees the text on the bottle: cervical cancer.

This commercial caught our attention -- and that of the millions of Academy Awards viewers -- and is one of the most shocking public service announcements we've seen in a while.



The perfume bottle was just the beginning, check out this commercial that recently hit the airwaves.



Kind of makes you stop what you're doing and think about your friends, right?

The spots for GlaxoSmithKline's Help Prevent Cervical Cancer campaign are just two of many public service announcements that really caught our attention. Check out our full list of memorable and shocking PSAs below.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America: Fried Egg
This public service announcement from 1987 is the mother of all PSAs. It's probably the most famous PSA out there and has been integrated into TV shows such as 'Roseanne' and 'Beverly Hills, 90210.' In 1997, the Partnership released an updated egg spot with Rachel Leigh Cook that focused on the dangers of snorting heroin.





Partnership for a Drug-Free America: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'
Two lines made this commercial a quasi-pop culture phenomenon. Watch the video, then come talk to us if don't remember the famous insult exchange.



New York State Smoker's Quitline
The commercial with the lost child chilled us and even sparked some morning show controversy. The child's terror is real and goes right for the heart, making this PSA quite effective.



U.S. Department of Transportation and the Ad Council: Crash Test Dummies
The Crash Test Dummies came into our pop culture world with a bang and held on. The characters -- along with their seat belt safety message -- became so popular and recognizable that they spawned toys, video games, comic books and cartoons.



Clean Up New York: David Lynch
Rats have never been as creepy as they are under the guidance of director David Lynch in this PSA from the early 1990s. This spooky commercial urged citizens to cut down on litter ... or else.



Crack: Pee-Wee Herman
There was a time when we would heed advice and from Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), like back when this PSA ran. Now, it's just a relic of the past, but what a memorable one it is. The mood lighting, the dramatic sounds and the serious tone of the fun-loving Pee-Wee conveyed the seriousness of cocaine abuse.



New York City Department of Health: Marie and Ronaldo
These chilling PSAs graced airwaves, subways and pretty much saturated the New York media landscape. Not only were they effective, but they turned the stars into minor celebrities and that helped drive the message about the dangers of smoking home. Videos of the commercials are around the Internet, but these images are just as powerful.




Time for Timer
We're not quite sure why the people behind Timer thought it would appeal to kids, but for whatever reason he was thrust upon us every Saturday during the morning cartoons on ABC. Timer, sort of the body's biological clock, starred in a series of shorts about certain needs of the body. These PSAs are remembered more for the creepy factor and less for the message.



Ad Council: Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear, often referred to as Smokey the Bear, was created in 1944 and remains active to this day. Since the character's inception, the annual amount of acres lost to forest fires went from 22 million to 4 million. Remember, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."



U.S. Department of Transportation: 'Star Wars'
Once upon a time, 'Star Wars' had some strange -- and we mean really weird -- tie-ins. Remember the infamous Christmas special? Back in 1979, several characters appeared in PSAs. C-3PO and R2-D2 warned the youth about smoking and others tackled the issue of drunk driving (below). Remember, if Chewie has too much to drink, he can't pilot the Millennium Falcon.



Partnership for a Drug-Free America: "I learned by watching you!"
This classic commercial has all the angst (and bad acting) that made up much of the late 1980s TV shows and movies. The commercial became a part of pop culture and was parodied numerous times and even popped up on 'Scrubs.'



Keep America Beautiful: "Crying Indian"
We're willing to look past the fact that Iron Eyes Cody wasn't a real Native American, because this commercial is so memorable. The campaign started in 1971 in conjunction with Earth Day and is still an iconic part of PSA history.



National Child Safety Council: G.I. Joe
These PSAs ran at the end of every episode of 'G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,' reminding kids that "knowing is half the battle." The commercials also found a new audience on the Internet and have been edited by fans repeatedly, YouTube is stacked with spoofs.




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