AT&T "It Can Wait" 



Distracted driving now causes 25% of automobile crashes, and is involved in over 200,000 accidents each year, often causing injuries or death. Distracted driving causes more accidents than drunk driving.

90% of people agree that distracted driving is dangerous, but 70% of people still use their smartphones while behind the wheel. People believe that the danger only applies to teenagers and inexperienced drivers; and that a glance at a push notification or a quick scroll through a newsfeed is ok because it’s a fast, passive behavior. We needed to create a breakthrough campaign that would wake people up and show them that all distracted drivers are at risk of death; regardless of age, driving skill or distracted smartphone behavior.

The Strategic Approach

Many brands and governmental bodies design awareness ads to help reduce the number of deaths and crashes from distracted driving. Their creative approach is usually the same: they start with the car and then make it crash. While visually interesting, that approach generally lacks the human element that is needed to truly drive culture through creative ideas.

To be more engaging and personally relevant, we knew that we needed to establish real emotional connections with our audiences. To accomplish that, we developed strong stories that anyone could relate to. Each creative execution for It Can Wait developed a narrative that brought the audience into lives of the characters. Once that connection was established, we dramatized how one split second and one tiny glance could have a lifetime of consequences.

We leveraged two core strategies in our executions:

  • We depicted car crashes via shocking, unexpected moments that grabbed the audience’s attention and left a lasting, haunting impression.
  • We created fictional characters to deliver the campaign message. Those characters helped us build an emotional connection with the audience and became an authentic voice to deliver AT&T’s message.

The Execution

We launched the campaign with a long form film, “Close to Home.” It started out quietly, depicting people going about their day. All is normal and uneventful until a mother, who is driving with her child in the back seat, quickly checks a social media post on her phone. The fleeting distraction lead to devastating consequences a fatal car crash that left viewers aghast.

Next, we partnered with the mobile app Wattpad and its top influencer, Anna Todd, to create a branded story. Anna wrote serialized narrative that created a strong emotional bond between readers and the main character over the course of nine chapters, culminating in the character’s death in a crash caused by distracted driving.

And finally, we created an immersive VR experience that put people in the driver’s seat, to experience first hand how dangerous distracted driving can be.

The Results

  • Analysis of data from the Texas Department of Transportation showed that the campaign reduced smartphone-related distracted driving crashes by 9.5%, likely saving thousands of lives across the United States.
  • The campaign generated over 6 billion earned media impressions
  • The long form film “Close to Home” was viewed over 22 million times across all channels and 77% of online viewers completed the entire film.
  •  The branded story on Wattpad, “Weeping Willow,” was read by over 200k people and generated 6 million social media impressions. The average user spent over 27 minutes with the branded story, an eternity in the mobile space, and 67% of readers shared the story with their friends.
  • 15,128 people directly engaged with the VR experience, via 175 events that ran for 323 days throughout 2015. Over 744,981 people attended the events and watched on via film screens projecting the live VR experience.