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Marketing and Comms
AT&T Reminds Drivers They’re Never Alone on the Road in Latest Ad

When your smartphone receives a message or a call while you’re driving, do you answer it? For most (64 percent of) Americans, the answer is yes – but only if they’re driving alone. Interestingly, only 36 percent look at their phone screens with passengers in the car and just 30 percent do so if there is a child in the car. But as AT&T’s latest ad demonstrates, even if you’re alone in your car, you’re never alone on the road.

AT&T first launched its “It Can Wait” campaign against distracted driving in 2010, and has since generated over 10 million pledges not to text and drive. The campaign was expanded last year after the company’s research showed that, while texting and email were still the most prevalent, nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users engaged in social media while driving. About 7-in-10 interact with their smartphone while driving, including nearly 30 percent who surf the internet and/or use Facebook, 1-in-7 who use Twitter, and 1-in-10 who video chat.

To take the campaign to the next level, AT&T is leveraging behavioral economics and related social science research in its latest advertisements, including one entitled The Unseen recently released as a 30-second spotand a 3-and-a-half-minute short film. Similar messages will be released across television, print, radio, social and digital channels over the next few weeks.

“Changing the social norm around distracted driving is essential,” Lori Lee, AT&T’s senior executive vice president and global marketing officer wrote in a blog post about the new ads. “So we’ve enlisted some of the brightest minds in behavioral economics and social psychology to help us uncover new insights and test them in field trials. We hope they can help us convince everyone to stop looking at their smartphone screens while driving.”

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Lee listed the economists behind Freakonomics and behavioral science-focused non-profit ideas42 among other experts AT&T is working with to learn more about the motivations behind such behavior and how to use technology and other tools to drive real social change.

The company is also a founding member of the Together for Safer Roads Coalition (TSR), which brings together global companies to help improve road safety and reduce deaths and injuries from crashes.