The teenage stars of YouTube reality series @SummerBreak take an emotional ride in this road-safety PSA with a reveal so powerful, it reduces some of them to tears.
Part of AT&T's acclaimed "It Can Wait" campaign against distracted driving, the nearly four-minute video, created by Fullscreen's Strategic Content Group, starts innocently enough. The @SummerBreak cast members individually chat with an unseen interviewer about why they choose to text, check emails or compose Snaps when they should be keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
While they clearly appreciate the gravity of the subject, their initial responses are nonchalant and even jokey. At one point, Dash notes that his passengers play "a really important role," making sure he knows when red lights are coming up as he texts and drives.
Ultimately, however, an unexpected guest named Jacy Good is introduced to the conversation, and the tone shifts into far more intense territory as the cast members attempt to look her in the eye and explain why they use their phones while driving:
Six years ago, returning home from her college graduation, Good lost her parents and sustained a traumatic brain injury in a crash involving a distracted driver. She was given a 10 percent chance of survival, but defied the odds and emerged as a powerful advocate for cellphone-free roads through Hang Up and Drive, an organization she founded with her husband Steve.
Good's presence brings the issue into stark focus, allowing the @SummerBreak cast members—and the show's millennial and Gen Z audience—to fully appreciate what's at stake. (The video is posted to @SummerBreak's YouTube channel.) Plus, her message is empowering, as she reminds us that we can all prevent distracted-driving tragedies and make the roads safer for drivers everywhere.
"We know statistics alone do not work for this demographic. We know that teens continue to engage with this dangerous behavior despite knowing the risks," Billy Parks, svp at Fullscreen Strategic Content, tells Adweek. "The video uses the @SummerBreak cast to deliver this serious message by proxy—and it's effective because audiences have already established connections, communities and friendships with these influencers online."
@SummerBreak memorably teamed up with AT&T's "It Can Wait" program last year for a jarring PSA that featured the cast members on a road trip, singing along with Fifth Harmony's "Worth It":
That clip went viral, generating more than 25 million combined views across YouTube and Facebook and bringing considerable attention to the cause. Parks believe this year's video could have a similar impact.
"The content is emotionally raw and features several @SummerBreak cast members, past and present, that fans feel a strong connection and friendship with," he says. "We believe our fans will not only watch the video in its entirety, but share the message with their communities"—perhaps following the current trend of posting short edits on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"We believe in participating in social, not just broadcasting in it," says Val Vargas, AT&T's vp of advertising and marketing communications. "We believe that if you create for the fans first, an authentic community that aligns with your message and brand follows."
For the @SummerBreak cast members, the video shoot resonated after the cameras stopped filming. "Ben went home and sat his parents down, ultimately educating them on how dangerous smartphone-distracted driving is," he says. "Dash sent a note to the show's executive producer thanking him for potentially saving his life and others."
Even Good, a veteran of media interviews and public appearances detailing her personal struggle, found the experience transformative.
"This production allowed her to have the one-on-one interaction with drivers that she's wanted to have," Parks says. "It was a cathartic experience for her, and she went home and said she felt like a much more whole person."
Agency: Strategic Content Group, Fullscreen
Senior Vice Presidents: Billy Parks, Bryan Thoensen
Creative Directors: Ben Beale, Rory Forrest
Director of Creative Strategy: Maude Standish
Director of Creative and Production Services: Jane Krull
Copywriters: Ben Beale, Rory Forrest, Patrick Tamisiea
Directors: Ben Beale, Rory Forrest
Producer: Carl Indriago
Director of Photography: August Thurmer
Editor: Dominic Lopez
Ben Segal (Season 4)
Alexis Boyd-Holling (Season 4)
Kaylee Williford (Season 4)
Baylynne Williford (Season 2)
Justin Nelson (Season 3)
Dash Dobrofsky (Seasons 2 and 3)
Whitney Webb (Seasons 1 and 2)
Parham Mansourian (Season 2)