Texting while driving is a major safety issue and legislation prohibiting cell phone usage while driving has not been an effective solution. Text-related car accidents have risen over the past few years, and this is a particular concern for young drivers. Teens are the most at risk for texting behind the wheel, with studies showing it may be even more hazardous than drinking and driving and that an average of 75 percent of young drivers admit to frequently texting while driving.
To combat distracted driving, AT&T champions "It Can Wait" messaging, reminding drivers that no text, tweet, snap, etc. is worth a life. To reach this highly impacted teenage demographic, AT&T and Fullscreen Media's Strategic Content Group used the internet franchise @SummerBreak to reach a highly engaged audience with a very personal approach to this messaging. @Summerbreak is built around the notion that millennials tune in to their friends' content over traditional content; they bond with their online connections in this way.
To make the "It Can Wait" messaging personal – and illicit real change, the @SummerBreak crew utilized season three's cast to display the real dangers of distracted driving to an audience that would organically share and spread this PSA.
@SummerBreak is a YouTube-based, real-time reality series for the Millennial and Gen Z audience, a key target audience for the "It Can Wait" message about the dangers of distracted driving. The show follows 11 Los Angeles teenagers as they embark on a summer of relationships, life changes and LA adventures. The show airs three times a week and plays out in real time on 9 platforms across social media.
We strategically tapped into @SummerBreak, which blurs the lines between entertainment and friendship so deeply that fans feel like they're "spending the summer" with the stars. As the summer came to a close, fans, awaiting their regularly scheduled YouTube episode of the @SummerBreak, tuned into an "episode" that opened on the cast creating a "Caraoke" video to one of the hottest songs of the summer.
The driver—Ava Sambora—leans in to check a text message and suddenly the car crashes. The screen goes black for a beat, and a message reads, "No post, no glance, no email, no search, no text is worth a life." Then, Ava comes back to explain that the episode was actually a demonstration of the dangers of distracted driving. She then asks fans to take the "It Can Wait" pledge.
@SummerBreak started as an experiment in reaching teens authentically, and the PSA effectively harnesses the show's power to deliver a close-to-home message. Teenagers take the greatest risk when it comes to texting and driving, and "It Can Wait," with its hyper-realistic car crash dramatization, put @SummerBreak's connection with its audience to good use.
The response was explosive. Without any paid media, the video drew more than 6.5 million views on YouTube and 20 million on Facebook. Terrified fans commented that they thought it was real, that it made them "cry," "scream," "shake with fear," shared the video more than 100,000 times, and took the ICW pledge. By creating a powerful – genuine - demonstration, in the right place, at the right time, the campaign created a culture-defining moment that saved lives and changed the way a generation viewed distracted driving.
AT&T is one of the largest and most prestigious communications companies in the world, and its ability to reach millions of consumers cannot be understated. "It Can Wait" taps into the engaging nature of @SummerBreak's storytelling tactics, creating an entry point for viewers to get behind a timely message on the responsibilities of being a driver.
The show has become a revolutionary vehicle for AT&T to deliver positive messaging and increase overall brand linkage. Unlike similar shows, @SummerBreak is not edited and manipulated with predetermined storylines. Episodes are shot live, and audiences engage with the cast in real-time.
"It Can Wait" teaches teenagers that distracted driving has its consequences. Millennials and Gen Z have never known a world without mobile smart phone devices, and are completely attached to their phones at all times. AT&T and Fullscreen Media's savvy "It Can Wait" campaign reminded the @SummerBreak fans that driving is a privilege, and successfully highlighted a critical issue for our time.