The best ad I’ve ever seen

This is a public-service ad for the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership. Produced by Sarah Alexander.


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65 Responses to The best ad I’ve ever seen

  1. Yes, this is a really nice video. Very reflexive. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. CalicoSalsa says:

    Everyone should see this ad, and share it with their loved ones.

  3. Julie Hess says:

    Wow. That was great . . .

  4. amy says:

    brings tears to my eyes every time . . . even without pms . . .

    . . . and I don’t mean pantone matching system

  5. John P says:

    Who doesn’t wear their seat belt anymore?

    Yes, very captivating ad . . .

  6. Ethan says:

    I agree . . . this is a very artfully crafted marketing. It really captures your attention and delivers the message along with an experience.

  7. Diane Hokans says:

    @JohnP: Believe it or not, there are a growing number of people (many are our younger generations) who do not wear their seat belts. Maybe this is just in my area of the country (central portion), but I am amazed every time one of these news stories comes on in which people are thrown and die — but could have been spared if only their belts were on.

  8. Wow — amazing — brings together all that is powerful and possible with video to convey something really worthwhile — I love it

    And . . . it brings tears to my eyes, which is the inherent power of a deeply connecting audio-visual experience — no distractions, nothing extraneous . . . excellent design

  9. Shannon says:

    Wow. I just tried going back to work and was distracted because I was still so emotionally caught up in this ad. Beautiful marketing job.

  10. Don Cheke says:

    A bit too emotional for my tastes, which surprises me, but it does make the point.

    It hasn’t felt comfortable to go without a seatbelt for more years than I can remember. I can’t believe that it isn’t the law for everyone in North America to wear seat belts, as it has been mandatory in Saskatchewan since 1977.

  11. Skip Savage says:

    Even makes a libertarian cry.

  12. Rob says:

    Powerful — excellent

  13. That is a good ad. It works.

  14. Lorenzo says:

    Haunting. Well made.

  15. Beth W. says:

    Don, it is against the law to speed, drive drunk, talk on your cell around some school zones, etc. Just because it is against the law, doesn’t mean people don’t do it, thus the need to be reminded why they need to obey the law more frequently.

  16. Jerry S says:

    Oh, yes.

    Simple, clear, beautiful. With all the right emotional connections (family+safety).


    Thanks for sharing, John.

  17. Nancy W says:

    Really a striking . . . art hopefully can motivate action. It made me tear up thinking of a beautiful 16-year-old former student of mine who went through the windshield and died because of not wearing a seatbelt . . . she lived in Utah, where, at the time, there was no seatbelt law. Hope that’s changed. Such needless loss.

  18. m2gearhart says:

    Beautiful piece . . . almost lost me after watching cheesy smiles in slow motion for 0:18. I wondered if it was going to go anywhere. But it quickly redeemed itself. I think the most powerful element was the understatement (no car, minimal set, no heads smashing through windshields, no bodies flying from rolling vehicles).

  19. SusanS says:

    Am I the only person who didn’t like this? I thought it was really slow — slow motion, slow music, slow getting to the point. And there was something creepy about it — why is the guy driving barefoot in his living room in front of a TV tray? Why is there confetti in the bowl? Why does he look at the girl out of the corner of his eye like he’s possessed? Why are they smiling at him like Stepford wives? Why does their house look like a weird 70s basement? I am not usually a complete cynic, but this one did not work for me. Initially, I thought it was an ad for anti-depressants — which I may now need.

  20. Red says:

    According to a YouTube commentor, this PSA was: Written and directed by Daniel Cox. Produced by Sarah Alexander. Music composed for the advert by Siddhartha Barnhoorn. The father is played by Austin Spangler. Mother played by Lara Corrochano and the wonderful daughter is acted by Clare Denning.

  21. patsuni says:

    I became so completely engrossed in the action that I was only vaugely aware of the uncomfortable sensation which I finally realized was goosebumps! Very powerful. “Eat your heart out, Don Draper!”

  22. oscar argal says:

    I do like it very much as well.

    Beautiful way to talk about something so awful as dead.

    An example of ways of working.


  23. Brett says:

    Thanks John. Now I have tears all over my charcoal drawing. Helpful!

  24. Mushtaq says:

    A great ad needs to be effective on several different levels:
    It must engage and capture your attention.
    It must connect with you emotionally.
    It must, above all, deliver the message.
    This ad absolutely works on all these levels, and does so aesthetically, technically, with power, without any literal realism.
    Wonderfully done.

  25. Mushtaq says:

    Additional comment:
    It also makes the all-important link to the family, to whom is most affected.

  26. May says:

    John, thank you so much. Folks, it’s from the UK; music by a Dutch composer. Background and production details at Why the living room, confetti, slow motion? Because it’s visual poetry, a language of impression and emotion. Fascinating approach to a PSA, and so very moving. How pleasant it feels to be happily motoring … how suddenly that can change … how our loved ones would protect us if they could … like seat belts. Gorgeous, amazing, sublime.

  27. Louise says:

    Very clever concept — sometimes words just don’t get through to people …

  28. Randy Martin says:

    In the world of cuts so fast you can’t see detail, slow motion stands out. Great stuff. Great.

  29. Cindy Brown says:

    Love it … the concept … the acting … the music … the message.

    I’ve been a chaplain at a trauma hospital for the past year, and even when it’s the law some people still refuse to wear seat belts.

    Somebody needs to make an ad as captivating for motorcycle helmets.

  30. Carroll Harrington says:

    Now they need to do one about texting while driving!

  31. zenon chytra says:

    WOW. I had to watch it a few times, and each time I found something more powerful in the ad. Award-winning ad.

  32. Jayne Kettner says:

    Excellent ad! It gave me chills. I love the slow, thoughtful movements.

    How often we hear, “If only he had been wearing his seatbelt, he would still be here with us today.” If one person’s life is saved because this ad reminded them of the importance of clicking that seatbelt, then it is more than successful.

    Neat how the fearful looks of concern on the mother/daughter (survivors) change when the girls becomes an angel with wings, her hands wrap around her daddy, his wife wraps her hands around his heart, and their arms are transformed into seatbelts that save his life.

    The dad’s facial expressions remind us how we may just be out for a joyride, when suddenly everything changes and we don’t have any time to think before an accident happens.

  33. Great ad. We are currently celebrating in Victoria (Australia) 40 years of seat-belt legislation. The first state in the first country in the world to do so. We also have extremely strong gun control in this country (after too many lives were lost). Lessons the entire world can learn from. Ads such as these help and, yes, many (mostly young) here still don’t always wear theirs and pay the ultimate price.

  34. Kevin Olson says:

    I’d heard of this ad but hadn’t seen it. I think it’s great in the way it ties in the family with the driver. We should all consider that connection next time we decide we need to text while driving. It can wait. Very powerful ad, I think.

  35. Scott Thorburn says:

    Powerful. Articulate. Beautiful and important.

  36. Brian Diehm says:

    Started out slow and sappy, got really really sappy with the little girl’s angel wings, kinda creepy with all the eyeball and posture stuff, but redeemed itself in the end, though I still felt very manipulated. WAY over the top.

    If you’re going to go for an emotional response, you have to get the viewer to want to participate. If the emotion evoked is involuntary, well, that’s manipulation. Movies evoke emotions, but the good ones don’t do it by manipulation. They bring you along, they don’t co-opt you.

    This ad rides the line. It’s well done, but is it highjacking my emotions?

    I’m sure it will get a Clio, though. The cynic in me says the makers know it, too.

  37. Mats says:

    Wow! Very strong, very touching. Beautifully produced.

    The slo-mo enhances how fast a simple mistake (=not using the belt) can turn a happy life to tragedy.

    I wonder, though, if this works on people with no family (esp. with no kids) as good as on me (as a father) . . .

  38. SusanS says:

    One more comment: The point of a PSA is to get people to take action. This ad may be “gorgeous, amazing, sublime” and “artfully crafted” — but is that going to get a teen driver to put on his or her belt? Doubtful. What works? Seat belt laws and marketing campaigns like “Click it or Ticket” — which is not beautiful or sublime, but has been proven to work. I think all of the artists and designers have lost sight of the idea of results in favor of what is pretty. Here’s a link to a video that is not pretty or artful — but reality:

    I believe — while ugly — this would capture the attention of a teenage viewer more than the butterfly wings. Maybe I have a different view b/c I am not a designer — I am someone who analyzes marketing results. I work with a lot of designers who have a hard time accepting that sometimes ugly wins the day.

  39. Christina says:

    I’m on the fence with this one. I appreciate the complete production of it, but I’m with Brian that I kind of feel ‘highjacked’ at the end.

    And while I understand the point of the entire commercial, I’m still trying to find the connection between the driving and the living room setting. It’s a mental leap that I trip over.

  40. Bob says:

    I agree. Wonderful ad!

  41. Sean says:

    I agree with some of the comments. Even though the ad itself is meant to be powerful, I think the big goal here is to win an award.

    It’s masterfully made, etc., but I’ve spent too much time in ad agencies to know that this one is award-driven rather than making any real change.

    It’s perfectly executed, but it’s been written in an agency. Someone conceived it in an agency, wrote it in an agency, presented it in an agency.

    No one bothered to go out there and speak to people who “don’t belt up.” Find out why they don’t belt up. Then attack the problem from that point of view, because then you’re really taking on the problem as it exists.

    An ad like that would be a lot less glamourous, but a lot more specific when it comes to making actual change. This ad on the other hand is largely entertainment.

    Which is fine. TV is about entertainment. But whether this ad will bring any kind of change is very doubtful.

  42. Dana says:

    I think the living room setting connects with the childhood make-believe-I’m-a-grownup memory that most of us have. Who didn’t “drive” a table, box or chair?

  43. Droolcup says:

    Amen and amen: I had seen this one before and felt the slow pace was good as it forced me to sit down, be patient and see what developed. There is a slo-mo quality to catastrophes, for those who experience them. (That sense of inevitability and one’s life flashing past, etc.) It definitely hit home.

    For those who are upset by being ’emotionally hijacked,’ ‘manipulated,’ or forced to watch something beautiful in lieu of the reality presented in the link above… well, I suppose that is what makes horse races. Unfortunately, the reality video made no impression on me. The fellow looked like a doofus about to doze off and the accident looked like a parlor trick. There was nothing in it, unlike the advertisement, that made me invested in the guy’s future. To me, there was nothing there I would take home and recall.

    Reality works, as when one goes to traffic school and learns that the officer teaching has never pulled a dead body out of a seat belt. But the combination of slow motion, poetry and possible devastation I found quite effective.

  44. Mahmood Bader says:

    WOOW these is AD !

  45. Karina says:

    The idea is wonderful, as it works with love and common sense rather than “don’t do this” or “strictly forbidden”. . .

    It would be wonderful to reproduce this with youngsters (who just start to use their driving license) and friends as the “seat belt” — and show this in schools or in the cinemas around the world . . .

    Conclusion: Simply outstanding and truly life-embracing! Thanks for sharing.

  46. Dalibor says:

    See the film:
    “The Things of Life” (1970)
    Les choses de la vie (original title)
    Director: Claude Sautet — starring: Michel Piccoli & Romy Schneider
    for more about the subject.

    The thing is that cars and roads and life became too much fast.

    I lived happily more than 30 years without the compulsory belt when the life was slower and far more emotional.

  47. Scott Thorburn says:

    I am a father of an 18-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter, and this ad has already changed my driving behavior. I started out unbuckled, then put my seat belt on with this ad in mind. It reminded me I am not alone, that others count on me. Perhaps most folks don’t need as much reminding as me?

    With respect to criticism concerning manipulation of emotions, I believe each of us sets our own line and decides when it’s been crossed. I want to spend time inside my emotions.

    My kids have not seen the ad yet. I cannot report their reactions.

  48. Pamela Elliott says:

    So well done on an emotional, visual and intellectual level. This cuts right to the WHY of seat belts and gives the viewers no excuses for not wearing one.

  49. Russ Whitte says:

    Seemingly, another of several conscientious responses by a few filmmakers who have heard the sobs of those wounded by tragedy crying … “do something …”

    See also (warning! graphic surveillance video and re-enactments — for adults ONLY):

    (haunting music, beautiful voice, sobering images; a horror story of reality; the song is “My Immortal” by Evanescence, sung by Amy Lee)


  50. I love it, as a beautifully dramatic, well-produced ad.

    Whether it will make a difference? I have no idea.

    One advert that has truly made a difference to me ( I’ve tried to find this one on the internet, but can’t) is the one that starts with the child lying in a crumpled heap by a tree — the scene is played in reverse, with sickly, bone-breaking noises added, right back to the point where the child is hit by the car.

    There are two scenarios, each played in reverse.

    In one scenario she is fine at the beginning; in the other, she is obviously (and shockingly) dead.

    The message was that if you hit the child at 30mph, she will probably survive, but if you hit her at 35mph, she will most likely be killed outright.

    I swear this has really, really made me slow down when driving in the town.

  51. designchik says:

    I can add only one word to what’s already been said: Bravo!

  52. maria says:

    Very nice advertisement. Simple and very effective.

  53. Caroline says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing — it brought tears to my eyes!

  54. Jutti says:

    I can only say amen! to the comments already posted. So much more effective than some of the gory/scare-type seatbelt ads I’ve seen. Thank you for sharing this. I posted the link on my facebook page.

  55. Debbie says:

    Susan S. I agree with you on this one … slow, cheesy. The cuteness, music, happy family, slo-mo works with a population that already wears a seat belt. All of you who wrote that this brought a tear to your eye probably already wear a seat belt. I survived a head-on collision with a DUI driving over 80 mph — a 35-year-old known drug dealer. He died instantly; he was driving an old ’68 Chevy Caprice, no seatbelt, no bags, nothing; his engine ended up in the back seat. He probably would not have been influenced by this type of ad.

  56. Carmel says:

    Sorry, it didn’t move me at all — and I’m usually easily moved. Beautifully made, but I found the expressions phony and the music corny. The video posted by Russ moved me, though.

    What about the message? Sure, wearing a seat belt might have saved him, but the “accident” is caused because he’s distracted while driving.

    (The little girl was wearing wings all the time, by the way.)

    I always wear a seat belt. I don’t know what would convert people who don’t, any more than I know what would make careless drivers drive more carefully. Personal experience, maybe.

  57. Randy Martin says:

    Folks. No ad works for everybody. If it gets someONE to wear their seat belt, then it’s good. If you don’t like it, or you feel “manipulated,” okay, that’s you. And your opinion. But it’s different, arresting, thought-provoking, and well acted. And memorable. What else was there? Oh, yeah. Ugly and real. “Scared Straight.” That works, too. Why not do them all? As best as they can be done.

  58. Carmel says:

    “If it gets someONE to wear their seat belt, then it’s good.”

    This is true, Randy. But it if gets thousands to wear their seat belts, it’s better. And that’s the test of whether an ad is good or not — whether it works. Not whether we like it or not.

    From the time I spent in a marketing department (as a publications designer, not as a marketer), I observed that the marketers didn’t do much testing of their ads.

    I don’t know how you test an ad like this one, though, without doing a massive survey of people who saw the ad — or rather, those who saw the ad who don’t already wear seat belts.

  59. Yvette says:

    Nice punch line. I do appreciate the glitter confetti reminding me of shattering glass. But I don’t understand the idea of the girls watching the father pretend to drive. What does that symbolize?

  60. And moreover . . . doesn’t this concept apply not only to driving, but to life? Sometimes family helps and saves your life.

  61. Wendy says:

    My husband “forgets” to put his seat belt on until three or four blocks down the road. The ad that would work for him is one where the guy backs out of the driveway (unbelted) and gets slammed by a UPS truck barreling down the street.

    My thoughts on this ad . . . it is very effective. But it is true that it will only resonate with certain audiences. We need many channels and many types of messages (gentle, in your face, etc.) to make an impact.

  62. Mr. McWade, you’re a fabulous teacher, and I thank you for making me a better designer through two decades of professional (I hope) service. Thank you.

    P.S. This ad made me weep; it worked on every level. Plus something I can’t explain. I guess that’s Gestalt.

  63. Linda Pinder says:

    This ad was very powerful . . . but was I the only one to see the mom and daughter as not in the imaginary car with him, but possibly lost in the accident? The symbolism of the child’s wings, and the two stepping in as seatbelt “angels,” was no accident. The ad appeals on many levels depending on who sees it and on each individual’s perception of the incident. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that it is one of the best ads I have ever seen. The message was delivered without a word.

  64. mahesh says:

    So what’s the visual metamphor used here? I guess it’s mime . . . simple, yet effective.

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