Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday 4 May, 2006

Are you a 'Dead Ringer'?

By Julian Lee

Would anything short of a near miss persuade you to not talk on your mobile phone while driving? Probably not.

But this ad from the Pedestrian Council of Australia wants to create social pariahs out of those among us who cannot wait to answer the phone no matter the situation.

It is confrontational but, perhaps, not in the tradition of road safety ads in recent years. We, especially those of us who live in Victoria, have been subjected to a barrage of shock ads. You know the sort of thing: lots of twisted metal around trees, flashing lights, a contrite voiceover ...
This ad, or, to be accurate, community service announcement, is an example of what is known in adland as the tease. It leaves it up to your imagination to complete the picture.

Who knows whether this ad by Saatchi & Saatchi, which did it for free, will encourage us to change our habits? Personally I don't think it has much chance. Not because it is a bad ad. On the contrary, it conveys a powerful message, that you might as well commit suicide if you drive and talk at the same time, in a simple, direct and creative way.

No, it is because only a few of us will ever get to see it. TV stations are required by licence to run a certain number of community service announcements in their schedules. According to PCA chairman Harold Scruby, the decision to choose which CSAs is quite arbitrary. “The more creative the ad the better chance it has of getting the traffic manager's attention,” he says.

Whether it will succeed in its aim of creating pariahs is very much reliant on how many people see it and if they care enough to do something about it.

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