PSA for Children’s Charity Reminds Us That Giving Is in Our Genes

We’ve heard over and over that what separates humans from animals is the ability to feel emotions like compassion, and the subsequent ability to make a conscious choice whether or not to act on such emotions.

But maybe this is something we share with animals — not only that; just maybe they are better at it than we are.

Not many PSAs or non-profit promos ask viewers to devolve in order to tap into their inherent kindness and concern for others, but this spot by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi for Operação Sorriso (Operation Smile) —a group that funds reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lip — asks us to do just that, in a powerful and hard-to-ignore way.

The ad, inspired by a scientific study at Duke that explored the ancestral nature of empathy, shows two apes meeting for the first time in a lab. While one is locked in a cage, the other is allowed free reign of the room and is given a large plate of food. At first, the free ape begins to indulge in the treats, but as soon as its caged counterpart expresses some distress, the first ape takes a break from its feast to free the other one — and then shares the food.

“We were once all apes,” says the copy. “Those were the days.”

“Humans,” it urges us, “stay compassionate.” The spot then points to the campaign URL,, where you can donate to Operation Smile.

The point, says agency executive creative director Eduardo Lima, is “to remind people, especially non-donors, that the act of sharing is what helped us evolve as a species and should never be ignored.”