Would you be willing to drive with your eyes completely closed for five seconds? Research shows texting while behind the wheel is the equivalent.
Despite the obvious risks, however, research suggests texting and driving is a factor in between 15-19% of all fatal collisions involving teen drivers. Teens account for approximately 20% of all road-related injuries and fatalities, despite comprising just 12% of licensed drivers.
There has been a rash of advertising aimed at curbing what has become a major cause of death for young drivers in recent months, from a billboard for a fictional funeral home urging people to text and drive, to a powerful 15-second spot showing how quickly a life can change as a result of distracted driving.
The latest is a joint effort called “Choices” from the non-profits Parachute, OPC and the Collective Agreement that uses the popular pre-movie TimePlay app to put young moviegoers in the driver’s seat.
With an idea and script conceived by Taxi co-founder Paul Lavoie on behalf of the Voila Foundation, the interactive ad invites TimePlay users to vote upon five different choices for a young on-screen protagonist, such as which socks to wear or which people to hang out with that night. The most popular choice is then incorporated into the on-screen video.
Regardless of which selections the audience makes, the video ends with the young man involved in a crash resulting from his decision to text and drive. It then invites users to make a sixth and final choice by signing a pledge not to text and drive, with their name appearing on the movie screen.
“Choices” has been playing on 730 screens in 56 Cineplex theatres across the country for the past month and runs through Friday. More than 1 million moviegoers have experienced the ad, 69% of whom have signed the on-screen pledge to not text and drive, according to TimePlay’s vice-president of marketing Aaron Silverberg.
Silverberg said participating in the ad makes it more immersive – and therefore more impactful – for audiences, noting that he has heard a “collective gasp” ripple through the audience when the on-screen crash occurs.
“Users don’t even realize it, but they’re completely involved in the execution through the technology and the message at the end becomes much more profound,” he said.
“Advertising is about engagement via storytelling…so we’re taking it a big step further by involving users in the story to the point they’re actually building it,” he added. “In building it, they’re also interacting with the hero of the story and becoming more emotionally engaged with this person.”
Silverberg said Choices is unique among the various TimePlay executions, though it similarly harnesses the app’s unique ability to engage audiences. “When you put [consumers] in a social atmosphere with another screen and the ability to influence it, the possibilities are truly endless,” said Silverberg.