New Ontario campaign puts tongue-in-cheek spin on anti-texting-and-driving message
Ontario is turning to humour in a new social media ad aimed at getting drivers — particularly millennials — to put down the phone when behind the wheel.
The 53-second video tweeted by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca begins with a young guy texting with one hand and steering with the other. It’s the second commercial in the $1 million “put down the phone” campaign.
An announcer, in a cheesy beer commercial baritone, introduces a “save a life hack” — a lifestyle tip — and stumbles over a hilarious mispronunciation of the word algorithm in a mock recap of scientific efforts to combat texting and driving.
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he advises viewers to remove their phone’s protective case and put it on backward so the screen can’t be seen.
“What if the solution wasn’t more technology? It’s less. Pop it off, turn it over, pop it on.”
The ad is in sharp contrast to a blunt commercial that began airing in June on TV and in movie theatres, depicting a driver T-boned in a collision he would have seen coming if he hadn’t been checking his phone.
“It’s a little bit humorous but we’re still hitting a serious message,” Del Duca says of the latest effort, which is appearing on social media but not on TV.
“We wanted to make sure we are mixing it up, to make sure the message stays fresh and continues to have impact.”
Given the number of drivers — and even cyclists — regularly seen texting while on the road, reinforcing the importance of putting down the phone remains an uphill climb, Del Duca said.
“Too many of us want to stay connected 24/7. We’re going to keep hitting this message because the stats are very scary.”
One in seven deaths on Ontario roads is caused by distracted driving and a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash. The risk of a crash doubles when a drivers takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds.
As the new ad begins, the announcer points out more people are killed in texting-and-driving accidents than by drinking and driving.
Electronic signs above Highway 400 displayed the message “put down the phone” in another effort to reach people headed to cottage country and the Wayhome music festival north of Barrie last weekend.
They’ll also be seen on the 401 and Queen Elizabeth Way.
Later this summer, campaigns will be unveiled in time for the back-to-school crowd, both for university and college orientation weeks and students headed back to high school.