Ad of the Day: AT&T’s Latest ‘It Can Wait’ Film Drives Headlong Into the Supernatural

All that's missing from BBDO's spot is Haley Joel Osment

BBDO and AT&T have delivered another powerful offering in the "It Can Wait" ad series. But while last year's "Close to Home" took its time setting up the board—showing us the different people who eventually collide at ground zero of a neighborhood car crash—"The Unseen" goes in a more supernatural direction. 

To fully appreciate the 3:37 film, it helps to watch the 30-second version first. Without context, it feels almost like a ghost story, the kind you're told about some mysterious road where, at night, a spectre lures people into accidents.

The longer version has more in common with "Close to Home"—it turns out they share the same director, Anonymous Content's Frederic Planchon. We learn that the man in the car is a good, conscientious dad, with a rowdy band of kids that he drops off at the pool before heading off on his grim adventure. His wife calls to tell him the dog's gotten out. Her worry is contagious.

There are also red herrings: A man walks outside for the mail, and as he does, the father's phone beeps, but he doesn't check it. It's almost enough to make us believe things won't turn out as badly as they do. 

But it's then, in the quiet, that the spectre appears, a king-sized distraction on top of everything else, collapsing the father's guard and completing the star-crossed trajectory.

The agency says the ad could have been even more supernatural than it already is. 

"There were a few different ways we could play it," says BBDO executive creative director Matt McDonald. "Ultimately, we wanted to make it not seem like the Sixth Sense. Ostensibly, the kid could have jumped in the car at the pool, one of those crazy things that can happen. We had another version that played it a little more supernatural, but that took away from the ending." 

AT&T's "It Can Wait" has run for six years and featured a number of memorable executions, including a painful 2013 Werner Herzog documentary and this recent sobering video with the cast of YouTube reality show @SummerBreak.

Company data shows one-third of those exposed to the campaign have altered their behavior, and more than 10 million people have taken the "It Can Wait" pledge to avoid looking at their phones while driving. It's also seen 5 million downloads of its DriveMode app, which silences alerts and creates autoreplies to tell people you're on the road. 

"The Unseen" keeps the campaign's bar high, but also signals a commitment to storytelling freshness. We're anxious to see what it'll bring us next. Meanwhile, AT&T's global marketing officer, Lori Lee, writes more about the new spot in a blog post here.

CREDITS

Client: AT&T

Title: The Unseen

Agency: BBDO New York

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