"We decided that we not only need to help other countries with their enforcement but also tell our own citizens they should not be helping with the trade," McMurray said.
The United States is a large market for endangered pets like exotic birds, snakes and turtles, particularly from South and Central America, according to McMurray. Many of the animals are trafficked through organized crime rings, she said.
The United States is a member of the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, which seeks to end the animal trade, along with the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Chile and India, as well as a bevy of nongovernmental organization partners.
The publicity campaign doesn't only target potential buyers of animals but also those who might consider poaching an animal for its valuable parts.
In one ad titled "Situation," Ford stands in front of a map and explains how the market for animals only emboldens the animal trade.
"When the buying stops -- the killing can too. Case closed," Ford says.
ABC News' Alison Kenworthy contributed to this report.