Cannes Lions

It Can Wait

BBDO , New York / AT&T / 2016


2 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
Case Film
Demo Film
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Many brands and governmental bodies design awareness ads to help reduce the number of deaths and crashes from distracted driving. Their creative approach is usually the same: they start with the car and then make it crash. While visually interesting, that approach generally lacks the human element that is needed to truly drive culture through creative ideas.

For the films to be more engaging and personally relevant, we knew that we needed to establish real emotional connections with our audiences. To accomplish that, we developed strong stories that anyone could relate to. Each creative execution for It Can Wait developed a narrative that brought the audience into the lives of the characters. Once that connection was established, we dramatized how one split second and one tiny glance could have a lifetime of consequences.


To bring the strategy to life, we partnered with a mobile app called Wattpad: a community of 40 million people, who write, read and share original fiction and nonfiction. Working with Wattpad’s top influencer, Anna Todd, we created a written narrative that illustrated the danger of using mobile devices while driving.

Anna wrote a multichapter love story about a young woman who was falling in love while preparing for college. We built an emotional connection between the readers and the story’s characters over the course of several chapters. And then, the main character used her phone irresponsibly while driving, causing a tragic accident that ended her life.

Anna revealed to her readers that all of this was part of an important message from AT&T about the dangers of using mobile devices while driving. We also ran video ads that reinforced the campaign and introduced its primary film asset.


- The campaign generated over 6 billion impressions.

- Analysis of data from the Texas Department of Transportation showed that the campaign reduced smartphone-related distracted driving crashes by 9.5%, likely saving thousands of lives across the United States.

- The long-form film “Close to Home” was viewed over 25 million times across all channels, and 77% of online viewers completed the entire film.

- The branded story on Wattpad, “Weeping Willow,” was read by over 200,000 people and generated 6 million social media impressions. The average user spent over 27 minutes with the branded story, an eternity in the mobile space, and 67% of readers shared the story with their friends.

- 15,128 people directly engaged with the VR experience, via 175 events that ran for 323 days throughout 2015. Over 744,981 people attended the events and watched on via film screens projecting the live VR experience.

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