The New Zealand Transport Authority has delivered a PSA on texting and driving which is both effective and uncomfortable.
In the spot titled ‘Hello’, a series of different drivers receive text messages when they’re behind the wheel. When they reach over to check their messages, the passengers in the front seat reach out and hold their hands and greet them with an awkward smile, much to the drivers’ discomfort. The last driver (seen above) is especially uncomfortable with the physical interaction. The ad ends with the appropriate line “Put me first. Drive phone free,” a perfect message capturing how dangerous texting while driving can be.
The best part about the ad, aside from the visual gag, is the cover of Lionel Richie’s Hello which plays throughout making the hand-holding even more creepy. Emily Beautrais, the creative director of Clemenger BBDO, told AdWeek the use of ‘Hello’ “makes that discomfort visible without a heavy, judgmental tone.” She’s got that right. The PSA conveys the discomfort, but in a light-hearted way. That’s not an easy balance to find considering the topic’s serious subject matter and the ad’s creepiness.
The spot should accomplish its goal of making people think twice about texting and driving without being preachy or heavy-handed. It’s both funny and cringeworthy to watch. Despite only being on YouTube for less than a week, it’s already surpassed a million views – so clearly people are watching and listening.