Thinking About Texting Your Ex? You Might Be Too Buzzed to Drive
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Thinking About Texting Your Ex? You Might Be Too Buzzed to Drive

Just in time for the deadliest driving day of the year – July Fourth – there’s a new ad campaign warning people about the hazards of buzzed driving.

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Just in time for the deadliest driving day of the year – July Fourth – there’s a new ad campaign warning people about the hazards of buzzed driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Ad Council and advertising agency Cog NYC announced a series of public service announcements (PSAs) that feature a new creative direction of the ongoing “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” campaign.

Created pro bono by Cog NYC, the new PSAs inspire young men to examine their own behavior by bringing the “warning signs” of impairment to life with a comedic character. Acting as a voice of reason, she humorously empowers the hero characters to recognize the signs that they shouldn’t be driving – from rolling down the window for fresh air to considering texting an ex-girlfriend.

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The spots end with the tagline “Probably OK isn’t OK,” reminding drivers to take responsibility for their own decisions and find a safe way to get home instead of getting behind the wheel.

“People know not to drive drunk – but when they’ve just had a few drinks, they convince themselves they’re OK to drive,” said Wayne Best, creative director of Cog NYC. “The role of this advertising is to plant the seeds of doubt and highlight the warning signs, prompting young men to reconsider what it means to be too impaired to drive. As a smaller independent agency, we’re especially proud to be part of this campaign and are honored to partner with NHTSA and the Ad Council.”

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The integrated campaign currently includes TV, radio, outdoor and social components, which have been distributed nationwide and will run exclusively in donated time and space, per the Ad Council’s model. The social creative will soon debut on Facebook courtesy of their donated media support for the Ad Council.

The campaign also will be extended with print, digital and additional social activations designed to reach the target audience of millennial men.

Warning Signs

The Ad Council and NHTSA have a long history of working together to combat the issue of drunk driving, including the iconic “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign of the 1980s. In 2005, the campaign was refocused with the tagline “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” to ensure the message reached a new and crucial audience – those who know not to drive drunk, but don’t see a problem with getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks.

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The latest creative direction was developed after extensive research with the target audience, which found that while people will often intervene if a friend attempts to drive drunk, they are less likely to step in if the friend is slightly impaired.

This means that whether or not to drive buzzed is a decision you can make only for yourself – but once you’ve been drinking, your judgment is likely already impaired. This insight inspired the idea of “Warning Signs”: a reminder that if you have to ask yourself whether you’re OK to drive, you already know the answer.

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“Our Buzzed Driving campaign has done a great job of changing attitudes and behaviors around impaired driving over the past decade, but this vital information still needs to be heard,” said Lisa Sherman, Ad Council president and CEO. “The power of the new creative is that it delivers a lighthearted but memorable message to anyone who considers driving after drinking.”

To date, the campaign has resulted in a measurable increase in the target audience making safer choices. According to the most recent study available, between 2005 and 2013 the percentage of young men who said that they would always get a ride, take a taxi or use public transport rather than drive if they felt buzzed increased from 38 percent to 47 percent.

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