The Issue of Texting and Driving in the AT&T “It Can Wait” Awareness Campaign

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Texting and driving has become a prevalent problem in recent years, despite the widespread knowledge of its dangers. The Distracted Driving Statistics article reports that the National Safety Council estimates that over 1.6 million crashes annually involve drivers who are using cell phones and texting. In an effort to reduce texting while driving, AT&T launched the “It Can Wait” campaign, which employs various methods of communication. However, their most impactful approach is through television commercials.

The commercials serve as a public service announcement (PSA) that aims to engage teenagers and the general public by showcasing the consequences of texting while driving. One particular commercial featuring Chandler, a young man, caught my attention. While sending a simple message saying “I love you”, Chandler’s van collided with another car, resulting in the deaths of three innocent children. In this commercial, Chandler expresses that he thinks about it every day. This negligent act completely altered Chandler’s life. By sharing his story, Chandler hopes to caution others about the dangers and outcomes of texting while driving.

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AT&T has created concise and direct commercials to highlight the importance of not texting while driving. Each commercial features a personal story and displays the message sent at the time of the accident. In Chandler’s commercial, he is alone in a dark room speaking directly to the camera. The absence of distractions allows viewers to fully focus on Chandler and his narrative. AT&T showcases Chandler’s text message during the accident with a gray background and white font. The commercial unequivocally states the content of the text and its tragic consequences – the death of three children.

AT&T used the text message content and the fact that Chandler killed three children to highlight the pointlessness of texting those three little words, “I love you.” However, if AT&T had presented the commercials in a different manner, the overall success of the campaign would not have been the same. Simply stating facts and statistics about texting while driving would not have garnered as much attention as the current commercials. By incorporating tragic stories, AT&T has effectively reinforced the campaign’s focus on the dangers of texting while driving.

AT&T targets their intended audience by airing a commercial about Chandler on the MTV Network, specifically during the show Catfish. MTV caters to teenagers and adults between the ages of 16 and 23, making it the ideal platform for AT&T’s advertisement. Furthermore, as Catfish shares the same target audience as MTV, it serves as an additional avenue to reach the desired viewership.

Catfish is a TV show that features young adults using cell phones to communicate. By choosing to air their commercial during Catfish, AT&T is establishing a connection between the show and the issue of texting while driving. However, it’s important to note that there are also older individuals watching the network and the commercial. Despite the perception that AT&T is targeting teenagers and young adults, their actual target audience consists of anyone who owns a cell phone and can drive.

A study conducted by Gibson revealed that 87% of adults in the United States own a cell phone. However, only 12% of individuals aged 65 or older possess a smartphone. Consequently, a significant portion of the American population, comprising teenagers, adults, and senior citizens alike, is able to engage in distracted driving through texting.

AT&T has created the “It can wait” campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of texting while driving, specifically targeting teenagers in an effort to reduce their tendency to engage in this behavior. Through powerful commercials, AT&T effectively portrays the potential severe consequences of texting and driving.

The commercials feature personal stories of individuals who have caused accidents or been victims of texting while driving. They aim to reach not only teenagers but also adults and senior citizens. AT&T’s main goal with these “it can wait” commercials is to raise awareness about this escalating issue and convince people that texting and driving is not worth the risk.

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The Issue of Texting and Driving in the AT&T “It Can Wait” Awareness Campaign. (2022, Dec 26). Retrieved from

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