Effort to help end texting and driving gets two thumbs up

A two-part campaign helped DoSomething.org and its partner Sprint inspire 250,000 young adults to discuss the dangers of texting and driving.

Effort to help end texting and driving gets two thumbs up

Organizations: DoSomething.org (New York) and Sprint (Overland Park, Kansas)
Campaign: Thumb Wars and Backseat Adviser
Duration: May 20-September 24, 2014
Budget: $400,000

A two-part campaign helped DoSomething.org, the nonprofit that helps 13- to 25-year-olds support causes they care about, and its partner Sprint inspire 250,000 young adults to discuss the dangers of texting and driving.

"Many distracted driving campaigns use scare tactics," notes Do Something’s CMO Naomi Hirabayashi. "We used humor and education. We wanted to give young people something they could own and talk about directly with their friends." 

Sprint’s community affairs manager Michelle Chisholm says the effort was a natural fit for the company.

"Teens are a target demographic. They are new drivers who text a lot," she explains. "Sprint offers products that detect phone use, but awareness and education are very important. Do Something has great reach and an ability to get teens to act." 

Launched in 2010, Thumb Wars is an annual summertime program that includes giving away thumb socks, which make it impossible to text, to spark conversation around the issue.

Thumb Wars had a text message component in 2013 that the team expanded this year into Backseat Adviser, which ran from June 26 to September 24, 2014, and centered on sharing text message tips. Partnerships with celebrities, streaming music services Spotify, Songza, and 8tracks, and gaming site Dailybreak.com helped drive widespread awareness.

People who signed up for Thumb Wars on a branded microsite got two pairs of thumb socks – one pair to keep and one to give to a friend. They were also encouraged to share photos and stories.

Avan Jogia, star of Nickelodeon’s Victorious, played a funny "super-ish" hero who could knit really fast in a Thumb Wars PSA. The ad was posted to Do Something’s YouTube channel, aired by Nickelodeon, and pitched to broadcast media, movie theaters, and mall and campus networks. Unprompted, Jogia also created a comic book promoting the PSA.

The team worked with Songza and 8tracks to create custom playlists that included descriptions with campaign messaging, while Spotify donated banner ads and aired PSAs.

People who signed up for Backseat Adviser on a branded microsite received text message tips about combating texting and driving they could share with friends.

Do Something also created a PSA for the Fox Network’s Teen Choice Awards. Smosh, the comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, integrated Backseat Adviser messaging into their weekly YouTube video series. Viewers were asked to submit social media messages about why people shouldn’t text and drive, visit the Backseat Adviser microsite, and text Smosh for tips, which were provided by Do Something and Sprint.

Dailybreak.com created an educational anti-texting and driving game, which included a prompt to sign up for Backseat Adviser. Media focused on teens, causes, and celebrities were pitched throughout. 

A total of 296,609 young people participated in both efforts, up from 279,446 participants in 2013.

As of early December 2014, the Smosh video had nearly 1.1 million views. More than 21,400 Smosh fans texted to participate in Backseat Adviser.

Dailybreak.com has 25 million unique monthly visitors, 8tracks reaches 8 million active users monthly, and Songza has 5 million active users. About 8.9 million impressions were garnered from Spotify.

Stories ran in 249 outlets, including Teen.com, Just Jared, and Seventeen.com.

The team will continue to build on Thumb Wars and Backseat Adviser in 2015. A Teens for Jeans campaign with Aéropostale launches on January 12 and the second annual Valentine’s Day Love Letters campaign with AARP will follow.

PRWeek’s View
The authentic partnership between Do Something and Sprint created a seamless audience experience. Do Something’s team are masters at integrating engaging content into channels that young people already use. The Smosh integration and custom content components on Songza, 8tracks, and Dailybreak are great examples. The approach of giving young people things they actually want to share – thumb socks and messaging – was key. Results indicate outstanding audience resonance.

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