BBDO Veers Into Dark Fantasy for the Latest in AT&T’s ‘It Can Wait’ Campaign

By Patrick Coffee 

Adweek responsive video player used on /video.

BBDO’s ongoing anti-texting and driving campaign for AT&T takes an even more tragically macabre turn in “The Unseen,” the latest chapter in the 6-year-old “It Can Wait” project.


At first, this one resembles past spots with a 40-something suburban family. In fact, the BBDO team seems to be leading us to think that it will end in a less devastating way than 2015’s “Close to Home.”

For one thing, Mr. Dad is the only one driving. And he’s very careful not to get distracted by his phone, even though past efforts have turned this work into the advertising equivalent of a horror movie that inspires a rush every time someone goes up the stairs to the attic … or, in this case, every time he gets a notification.

Things take a turn toward the surreal or even fantastic around the 1:45 mark as an unexpected character appears.

Damn. Like the star of this ad, we didn’t see that coming until it was too late. 

The release notes that this spot launched before the Labor Day weekend because it happens to be the most travel-heavy holiday in the United States, and “more cars on the road means there is more risk of accidents.”

Even more importantly, people like our protagonist are twice as likely to use their phones while driving if they happen to be alone in the car. 

This is a pretty big conceptual leap for AT&T that closely resembles a modern day Twilight Zone scenario. “Close to Home” director Frederic Planchon also helmed this spot, and they’re very stylistically similar, but the twist does make all the difference. We knew something was coming, but we really didn’t expect it to go all supernatural like that.

The narrative loses much of its power in the :30 version, which cuts out all the buildup and a good deal of context along with it.

A related blog post by AT&T senior EVP and global marketing officer Lori Lee notes that the campaign will also include print, radio, social and digital components and that the company will work with some behavioral economists to “uncover new insights and test them in field trials” in its effort to decrease texting-while-driving accidents.

Given the client’s recent decision to consolidate its business with Omnicom, we can expect a good bit more work on this account from BBDO moving forward as well.

Now, are we horrible people for hoping the dog found his way home?

Also, Brightcove is the absolute worst.


Agency: BBDO New York
Client: AT&T
Title: The Unseen

Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
Creative Director/Copywriter: Rick Williams
Creative Director/Art Director: Marcel Yunes

Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe
Group Executive Producer: Julie Collins
Executive Producer: Dan Blaney

Managing Director: Mark Cadman
Senior Director: Mark Tillinghast
Account Director: Matt Mason
Account Manager: Johnny Wardell
Account Executive: Erin Sheehan

Planning Director: James Lou
Engagement Planning Director: Charles Baker
Senior Planner: Simonas Piepalius

Business Affairs Manager: Nancy Espinal

Production Company: Anonymous Content
Director: Frederic Planchon
Managing Director/EP: Eric Stern
Executive/Production: Sue Ellen Clair
Head of Production: Kerry Haynie
Producer: Erin Wile
Production Supervisor: Donald Cager
DP: Jody Lee Lipes

Editorial: WORK Editorial
Editor: Rich Orrick – RICH ORRICK
Executive Producer: Erica Thompson
Producer: Jamie Perritt
Assistant Editors: Christopher Fetsch/evelina gokinayeva

Visual Effects: The Mill
Shoot Supervisor: Gavin Wellsman

Colorist: Fergus McCall

2d Lead Artist : Krissy Nordella
2d Artist: Gavin Wellsman, Heather Kennedy, Alex Miller, Nicolette Picardo, Alex Wysota, Kevin Donahue
3d Artist: Sandor Toledo, Peter Karnik, Alex Allain
Design: Yuanbo Chen

Senior Producer: Nirad “Bugs” Russell
Executive Producer: Sean Costelloe

Mix studio: Heard City
Sound Mixer: Phil Loeb
Sound Designer: Brian Emrich
Music track: Villa Del Refugio
Music artist: This Will Destroy You