Honda Takes A Less-Graphic Approach In New Anti-Texting Ad: Is This More Effective?

April 16, 2014

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a heart-stopping PSA for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Now, Honda has posted one of its own -- one that takes a considerably less graphic approach. Is one more effective than the other?

As you'll see from the clip embedded above, Honda opted for an animated ad that involves a fairly typical-sounding exchange of text messages. The team who created it chose to make their point via sound effects and inference rather than direct depiction of an accident.

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We've seen this kind of thing before. Back in 2010, we compared a somewhat over-the-top anti-texting PSA from the U.K. with one from Oprah Winfrey that was a much softer-sell. 

The extremes aren't especially surprising, given the target audience for these clips: teens. (Yes, everyone is at risk of texting and driving, but inexperienced drivers are arguably the biggest hazard on the road.)

Generally speaking, there are two ways of thinking about teen-oriented PSAs. One camp (exemplified by NHTSA's clip) believes that the only way to get young people's attention is to scare the pants off of them. The other camp (in which Honda mostly falls) believes that teens are turned off by hype and extreme rhetoric and pay more attention to thoughtful, creative approaches. 

The interesting thing is that, despite very different approaches, these two ads arrive at the same end: a surprise collision that comes out of nowhere, followed by a few quiet seconds of reflection to let it all sink in.

Between these two clips, which do you prefer? And what approach would you choose when talking to teens? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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