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Talking Texting and Driving with the Winners of Project Yellow Light
Ad Council Ad Council
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York , NY
Friday, August 11, 2017

Project Yellowlight Logo

Project Yellowlight Logo
Project Yellow Light is an annual scholarship competition for high school juniors and seniors and college students that promotes awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. Every year, we’re amazed by the TV, billboard, and – most recently – radio public service advertisements that our Project Yellow Light winners produce. 2017 was no different. We talked to our TV, radio and billboard winners about their inspirations and the importance of not texting and driving.

1. How did you come up with the idea for your PSA?

Grant Jarvis, Notification Nightmare (for high school video):
“The idea came to me in different stages as I considered what might expose the chaotic and fearful nature of driving distracted. I realized that the story resembled a nightmare, and from then on I knew that was what I wanted it to be.”
Alex Li, Leonardo Ko, Kyle Fuller, Never Here (for college video):
“Our team watched past Project Yellow Light videos, and held a brainstorming session to come up with an idea that was original. We emulated aspects from past winners, yet incorporated our own personal film-making style and editing techniques.”
Julia Keefe, Auto Car-Wreck (for college billboard):
Auto Car Wreck billboard
“We wanted our design to be read quickly, we wanted it to be memorable, and we wanted it to really resonate … We realized that the iPhone’s auto-correct feature is your best and worst friend while driving – it enables you to do something bad (but also can send out some pretty embarrassing typos).”

2. It can be hard to get teenagers and young adults to take issues like this seriously. What about your PSA will connect with them?

Thomas Johnson, Driving Blind (for college radio):
“If I were to grab a blindfold and stick it in front of my friends’ faces for 5 seconds while on the highway, they would call me crazy. The real crazy thing here is that texting and driving is just like that. I’m hoping that promoting this message will get people thinking about what it actually feels like to drive blind.”
Grant Jarvis, Notification Nightmare (for high school video):
“It is sometimes hard to realize how risky or dangerous a decision is until we see with our own eyes what the possible consequences are. When teenagers see what it looks like to narrowly miss a head on collision, or get side swiped by a train (not to mention go through a substantial amount of emotional trauma) as a result of texts blocking their view, I think that will be plenty of reason to take this seriously. Plus, the continual movement and action will keep them engaged in the story.”

3. What tips do you have for anyone making an ad or PSA to reach someone your age? (What should marketers do or say? What should they never do or say?

Sydney Zapf, Andrew Jenkins, Arrive (for high school billboard):
Arrive billboard
“Relating to teens is important, but the key is to never go over the top. If you try too hard, kids won’t take it seriously. Another thing that never works with kids these days is fear-mongering and guilt.”
Lia Senser, Just Enough Time (for high school video):
“To get the attention of other kids my age, I would have a funny video to make them enjoy it but also have a serious message so they remember it.”
Li, Ko, Fuller, Never Here (for college video):
“Marketing is tricky because there are so many advertisements out there, all competing for peoples’ attentions. The key is to find a simple, unique way to deliver an important message. If a person can remember and fully understand the message after only one viewing, you’ve succeeded.”

4. What causes are most important to you and your friends? Besides preventing texting and driving, of course!

Julia Keefe, Auto Car-Wreck (for college billboard):
“[My friends and I] frequently wonder what we can do to aid in finding better resources for those with mental health issues, or more importantly reducing the stigma around it. A lot has been done but there’s still more to do!”
Kai Dickson, Liz Kraushaar, Sherri? (for college video):
“We’re big on passion, finding what you love to do and figuring out how to serve the community by doing what you love. We are so thankful for this opportunity PYL has given us because it did exactly that. We were able to use our skills to do something we love for a bigger cause.”
Douglas Alberts, Get Real (for college video):
“A cause that is important to me is ocean preservation. When we consider this is the only planet we’ve been blessed with, let alone is the only planet with flowing water, we must take care of it.”
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