Each year, the Ad Council works with Project Yellow Light, a national public service advertising (PSA) scholarship competition to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The winning high school and college video, radio and design PSAs receive nationwide exposure through TV spots, iHeartRadio channels, and Clear Channel Outdoor billboards – the winning PSAs have been revealed on a billboard in Times Square since 2016.
The 2018 winners have just been announced, and we caught up with them to reflect on their Project Yellow Light experience and the keys to creating powerful PSAs. Learn more about the winners and check out the winning PSAs here.
What do you think makes an impactful PSA?
Virginia Stephens, Multi-Tasking (college radio):
“You have to grab your audience’s attention somehow, whether it’s through sounds on the radio or the colors/design on a billboard. What good is an advertisement if no one pays attention to it? Then, of course, you need to have a good message behind the PSA.”
Katie Wilkerson, Distracted Actions (college video):
“You have to know your audience, and you have to work with people who know that audience as well. When everyone is on the same page, you end up conveying a message that is clear and impactful.”
What are your tips for resonating with a youth audience?
Sarah Pearce, Short Yet Deadly (high school radio):
“I think that my PSA will resonate with young adults and teenagers because we’ve all been in a similar situation. We’ve all been at a stoplight and have gotten a text, then have been tempted to reply to it. Or we’ve been driving in slow traffic and though that we can easily reply to that text with an “On my way” or an “ETA 2 min.” But even those short texts can be devastating.”
Noah Anderson, Not Complicated (high school video):
“My PSA emphasizes the difficulty that driving provides on its own. I, and everyone else around my age, can recognize the responsibility of being behind the wheel. Reminding people of their own driving-related issues may propel them to take action against it.”
If you could offer one piece of advice to your peers about texting and driving, what would it be?
Emma Townsend & Kyle Pandiscio (college out-of-home):
“New drivers think they are invincible. They believe that glancing at their phone for a few seconds while driving is ‘no big deal’ and that nothing will happen to them. Texting while driving is a big deal and is happening far more frequently than it should be. There is simply no text that is worth risking your own or another’s life.”
Andie Rugg, Don’t End Your Life For A Text (high school video):
“Dying in a car accident caused by distracted driving is one of those things that you know happens, but you think it’ll never happen to you. However, it’s never worth the risk. After all, it’s your entire life that’s on the line when you pick up that phone.”
Victoria Williams, Focus (college video) focused on the impact on others:
“Your actions can affect every little thing around you, so you have to make your decisions carefully. You’re not the only one at risk if you text and drive. A careless mistake can lead to a serious disaster, just like a domino effect.”
Simply put, according to Lia Senser, No Joke (high school video):
“Before you reach for your phone, think about the call your parents would get if something happened to you.”