At Interbrand, we think very highly of those that organize around a cause – FEED, water.org, (RED), Heifer International, and others. We applaud corporations that find a voice in support of important causes – GE, Starbucks and others. Then, every once in a while, we are in awe of a situation where the incredible happens, and companies put aside the day-to-day course of competitive business in support of a commitment to a particular issue.
AT&T is a great example of a company that is putting a good cause ahead of day-to-day business practices. AT&T believes that no text is worth dying for and for years has been using its scale to bring attention to the issue.
The facts are clear: people who are texting while driving are 23 times more likely to be in an accident and every year there are more than 100,000 texting-related auto accidents. AT&T has been creating awareness and commitment through advertising, events and, more recently, by securing advocacy from many other brands.
Now, AT&T has inspired its staunchest competitors to get on board with the It Can Wait movement.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile Unite
Today, AT&T announced that its biggest competitors – Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile – are all joining the movement to save lives.
The US telecom industry is one of the most head-to-head competitive landscapes that exist in marketing. These four companies are locked in a very public, years-long battle to demonstrate their superiority and with billions of dollars spent to lure customers from one carrier to another.
Each of the four companies has supported no texting and driving messaging and activities, but by coming together, the US telecom industry has done something remarkable and unprecedented to change human behavior and put an end to texting and driving. It’s another great milestone for the initiative that AT&T started back in 2010, for the industry as a whole, and, most importantly, for the cause itself.
In addition to these telecom industry leaders, more than 200 organizations have joined the cause including companies like USAA, Walmart, RadioShack, Goodyear, Best Buy; non-profits like The National Organizations for Youth Safety; and government departments like the US Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Each will bring to life advocacy in ways that are unique and relevant to their core constituents. USAA and AT&T, for example, will bring a texting-while-driving simulator to over 400 local events, including military audiences through a 15-stop tour to military installations, whereas Goodyear will support the message at events overhead on its blimps.
AT&T’s Movement Against Texting & Driving
In 2010, with a significant advertising investment, AT&T launched a series of true story ads showing the last text message that was sent or received before someone’s life was altered, or even ended, because of texting and driving. Timed to impact people’s behavior around New Years Eve 2010, AT&T launched The Last Text, a 10-minute Documentary featuring deeper stories about real people texting and driving has deeply impacted. AT&T achieved its goal, making it available as widely as possible. The Last Text was viewed 100k times on day one, 1M+ views within week three and 3.5M+ to date.
In 2011, AT&T launched AT&T Drive Mode, an app available on Blackberry and Android devices that can turn off texting capability while driving. Most recent versions can do so automatically through GPS technology that detects the vehicle’s movement. More than 300,000 apps have been downloaded to date.
In 2012, AT&T intensified its efforts, calling on all Americans to pledge to never text and drive. AT&T launched www.itcanwait.com to aggregate content about the issue, and to feature an online pledge that people can sign.
AT&T also declared September 19, 2012 No Text on Board Pledge Day. With more than 70 local events, 27 states running don’t-text-and-drive messages on their LED highway signs and a national event in DC with AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson, FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and US Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood, the day dramatically amplified the message.
Going into the pledge day, only 200,000 pledges were logged and within days after 9/19/12, AT&T obtained more than 1 million pledges. To date, there are more than 1.4 million pledges. September 19, 2013 will be another day of action for advocates to rally awareness and commitment, in addition to year-round activities.
AT&T recognized that it was beginning to have a real impact on this important issue. Research results demonstrated greater awareness about the danger of texting and driving and peoples’ intent to change behavior.
Instead of declaring victory, AT&T decided it was just getting started, and that with the help and support of others, it could accomplish so much more. Heading into 2013, AT&T began to seek the support of other organizations to become advocates of the cause. To date, hundreds of corporations and non-profits have become advocates and are in discussions about offering varying levels of support – from evangelizing among their employees, to being a public endorser of AT&T’s efforts, to putting significant investment behind incremental efforts – all in support of the It Can Wait movement.
How You Can Join AT&T to Save Lives
Anyone can become an advocate for this movement. This first, most important, step is to make a personal commitment to not text and drive. At www.itcanwait.com you, your family and your friends can take the pledge.
Also, any organization – corporate, community, government, non-profit – has a range of options to get involved. At the most basic level, they can evangelize the cause among employees. AT&T has also made it easy for organizations to take a stand among external audiences with easy-to-replicate messaging and communications templates.
AT&T is also inviting organizations to champion the movement in a big way with a financial commitment and a customized communication effort. All of the details on how to get involved can be found at www.att.com/itcanwait.
No matter what you choose to do after reading this, please don’t text and drive.
Kevin Perlmutter is a Senior Director of Brand Strategy in Interbrand’s New York office, and Interbrand’s global telecom sector leader.