CAA’s cartoonish distracted driving campaign

Who: CAA and One Twenty Three West, with Murmur for audio. Illustration by One Twenty Three West creative director John Larigakis.

What: A new distracted driving campaign targeting Gen Z drivers.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week, running nationally on YouTube, Instagram Newsfeed and Instagram Stories using the Polls function.

Why: The target audience believes distracted driving is a social epidemic, yet don’t see themselves as part of the problem. It’s a generation that has grown up with the internet, and feels extremely confident using devices in all circumstances.

The campaign is reminding this audience that using their phone in any way while driving is considered distracted driving. The goal is two-fold, said Larigakis: Raise awareness of smartphone addiction and the dangerous effects it can have on drivers, and identify CAA as a trusted leader in public and road safety.

How: The campaign uses a light-hearted approach to tackle a serious problem. The ads feature animated animals including bears, an octopus and a pelican, engaging in various activities that constitute distracted driving, from searching for music, to watching videos and using navigation services.

Each spot features the message “It only takes a second to be distracted” in the middle of the spot, and ends by showing distracted driver forced to deal with the consequences of their actions: the bear being snarled at by his passenger, the pelican being given a ticket, and the octopus squirting ink all over the car’s interior.

It also utilizes the Instagram Polls function, showing GIFs of the videos, then giving young drivers the opportunity to admit if they’ve done something similar. The hope is that it reflects how big of a problem it is when they see the percentage of the Poll right after tapping their answer.

The idea was to create something bite-sized, shareable, and fun to watch, to show that the seemingly small interactions with your phone are actually distracted driving, and also remind people of the shame you feel when you get caught using your phone,” said Larigakis.

But why animals?: They were designed to make the videos more shareable, fun to watch, and memorable for the Gen Z demographic who have short attention spans online, said Larigakis.

And we quote: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s texting, DMing, searching for songs or scrolling through TikTok, you should just put your phone down when you’re on the road.” says Ian Jack, vice-president of public affairs, CAA national.  

Chris Powell