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Ad of the Day: Werner Herzog Makes It Heartbreakingly Simple—Don't Text and Drive

Four stories with one clear message

Just don’t text and drive.

If you haven't already, make sure you make time to watch Werner Herzog's new documentary on the dangers of texting and driving.

At 35 minutes, it's long for a PSA. It was sponsored by AT&T, with the support of the other three major wireless carriers—Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile—and created with the help of AT&T's agency, BBDO New York. You may want to spread it across a few viewings. There are natural breaking points, with a format that tracks four different stories of devastating accidents, told by the people involved—victims, perpetrators, families, and responding officers. But get through the whole thing.

The first story is about Xzavier Davis Bilbo, an 8-year-old paralyzed from the diaphragm down after a driver distracted by texting ran a four-way stop sign and hit him while he was crossing the street with his sister. Narrated in large part by his mother, it's heartbreaking enough on its own.

But there's powerful insight throughout the entire half-hour, much of it in the conversations with the two drivers—Chandler Gerber and Reggie Shaw—who agreed to appear on camera. Each killed more than one person, in separate accidents. While you’ll probably want to hate both of them, they don’t make it as easy as you might think.

In other words, the film manages to be most impressive in its subtlety; complex and compassionate in its handling of the people involved—simple and direct in its message. "I want people to look at me, and look at what I did, and what I caused, and say, I don't want to be that guy," says Shaw. “You put the phone away when you drive and you're safer behind the wheel. Everyone else is safer on the road around you.”

It may be cynical to say so, but a key part of what makes the documentary so effective is that it’s not just playing to the pity, or morality, of the audience. On some level, it's appealing to selfishness. The victims may be relatable, but so are the drivers—they’re just regular guys, like you—the film actually is appealing to the viewer's ego. Hitting someone won’t just ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It will ruin yours.

So it’s really, as Shaw says, in the end, pretty easy. Just don’t text and drive. 

Credits
Agency: BBDO New York
Client: AT&T
Title: “From One Second to the Next”
Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars

Executive Creative Director: Erik Fahrenkopf
Executive Creative Director: LP Tremblay
CD/Copywriter: Peter Albores
CD/Art Director: Hunter Fine
Group Executive Producer: Julie Collins
Producer: George Sholley
Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester

Production Company: Saville Productions
Executive Producer: Rupert Maconick
Line Producer: Cliff Schumacher

Director: Werner Herzog

Director of Photography: Peter Zeitlinger

Music Composer: Mark Degli Antoni
Edit House: Rock Paper Scissors
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Melanie Gagliano
Producer: Toby Louie
Editor: Joe Bini

Visual Effects House: Company 3
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld

Audio: POP Sound
Audio Engineer: Zac Fisher
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
 

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