Background: The effect of public service announcements aimed at promoting primary prevention of skin cancer may be limited by superficial cognitive processing. The use of both pictures and textual arguments in sun protection public service announcements were evaluated for their potentially beneficial effects on judgment, cognitive processing and persuasiveness. Methods: In a 2 × 2 factorial experimental design individuals were shown public service announcements that advocated the advantages of sun protection measures in different versions in which a picture was present or not present and a textual argument was present or not present. The 159 participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. In each condition, participants were shown 12 different public service announcements designed according to the condition. Participants judged each public service announcement on attractiveness, credibility, clarity of communication and the required amount of reflection. After the judgment task, they completed a questionnaire to assess knowledge, perceived advantages and disadvantages of sun protection and intended use of sun protection measures. Results: Pictures enhanced attractiveness, but diminished comprehension. Textual arguments enhanced attractiveness, credibility and comprehension. Pictures as well as textual arguments increased knowledge of sun protection measures. Conclusion: Pictures and textual arguments in public service announcements positively influence the individual's perception of the advantages of sun protection methods and the advantages of their adoption.