Our judges awarded this public-service campaign first place because it achieves two near-impossible goals: It reconciles a distressing topic—easily preventable car accidents—with upbeat, even humorous graphics, and it holds the attention of teenagers.
Impact Teen Drivers, a nonprofit based in California, was trying to address the increasing number of fatal car accidents involving teens that are attributed to avoidable, seemingly innocuous acts, like drinking a latte while driving. The organization hired Hybrid Design to create a campaign to display in classrooms that would inform teenagers and inspire them to change their driving habits. After creating six different campaign approaches, some statistically driven and some including emotionally charged stories, Hybrid Design went to the experts—focus groups of actual teenagers. “We were really open to what these kids had to say,” designer Ed O’Brien says.
The teens were clear on one point: They don’t want to read anything. On the other hand, they said that if they’re bored in class, they will read posters around the room. “It seemed logical to see if we could wrap up our entire message in five or six words,” says O’Brien. Taglines with darkly humorous juxtapositions like “Cobras, Uzis, Cancer, Floods, Texting” appealed to the young test audience. Art director Dora Drimalas notes that the kids “went in the direction that was more challenging, was more like a puzzle, and had the most humor and the most intelligence to it.” In fact, they leaned toward the same elements that attracted the Hybrid Design team. As O’Brien notes, “Good ideas work for everybody, not just teenagers.”
The campaign’s lively aesthetic is driven by Hybrid’s use of the typeface Ziggurat, which the team includ-ed in the pieces from the very beginning. “It felt like such a great font for one-word lines: bold and heavy
as can be, without being overstylized or something that will date too quickly,” says O’Brien.
After the focus groups, some students actually asked to keep the posters. Art director Brian Flynn pin-points the reason for the campaign’s success with its intended audience: “We didn’t talk to them any differently than we would to an adult.” Our judges picked up on this immediately. Alicia Cheng comments that the campaign “took a complex topic and made it accessible to all the different target demographics—the kids, the parents, the educators—in a way that didn’t talk down to anyone.”
There’s another good reason the students liked the work, according to Flynn: “These kids are looking at atrocious stuff all day. They’re looking at the ‘Please wash your hands’ sign. So if you give them something that is actually done well, they will respond to it.”
[Learn how to enter the 2010 Creativity & Commerce competition here]