Ad of the Day: This Hypnotic, Looping PSA Goes From Eerie to Deadly in a Split Second

Martin Stirling's latest shocker for Irish International BBDO

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Commercial directors have been bringing formidable formal techniques to PSAs lately. Freed from the constraints of regular brand advertising, they can use camera and editing tricks to build tension—and leave a memorable, often shocking impression on the viewer.

Partizan director Martin Stirling is particularly skilled at this. Eighteen months ago, his Save the Children "Most Shocking Second a Day" spot highlighted the effect of the Syrian crisis on kids. More recently, he made this beautifully bleak PSA, which used a looping technique to devastating effect.

Now, his latest video is here:

Spoilers below.

A follow-up to the "Don't Look Back" spot, "Anatomy of a Split Second" uses a similarly hypnotic visual trick to show how dangerous a split second of texting while driving can be.

The opening backyard scenes are ordinary but still unsettling, largely because of the music. As the action shifts to the road, we sense that it's only a matter of time—a split second, in fact—before disaster strikes. And when it does, it's horrifically choreographed—reminiscent in some ways of BBDO New York's latest "It Can Wait" PSA for AT&T, addressing the same topic. The on-screen text at the end reads, "Your mobile—would it kill you to put it away," which is a truly great line.

The new Irish spot is also a BBDO production, created by Irish International BBDO. It broke Monday on Irish TV.

"Mobile phone use is killing people on Irish roads," says Brian Farrell, communications manager at the client, the country's Road Safety Authority. "We know for a fact that making a call while driving will make you four times more likely to crash. However, most people are not aware that you are a staggering 23 times more likely to crash when texting while driving. With our new advertising campaign our message is very clear—when you use your mobile phone behind the wheel, taking your mind and eyes off the road for just a split second can destroy everything forever."


Client – Road Safety Authority Ireland

Brian Farrell – Communications Manager, Road Safety Authority

Annette Regan – Communications Department, Road Safety Authority

Agency – Irish International BBDO

Dillon Elliott – Copywriter, Irish International BBDO

Clayton Homer – Art Director, Irish International BBDO

Dylan Cotter – Executive Creative Director, Irish International BBDO

Ken Kerr – Account Director, Irish International BBDO

Dave Power – Account Manager, Irish International BBDO

Noel Bryne – Production Director, Irish International BBDO

Martin Stirling – Director, Partizan

Miranda Johnstone – Producer, Partizan

Carl Burke – DOP, Partizan

Kevin Konak – Editor

Post Production – Smoke & Mirrors

Sophie Harrison – Post Producer, Smoke & Mirrors

Jon Clarke – Sound, The Sound Factory

Silas Hite – Music

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.