Texting and driving—it’s something we all know we shouldn’t do, but it’s not always a rule everyone follows. That’s why the Ad Council has partnered with a competition called 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 national exposure through TV spots, iHeartRadio’s channels and Clear Channel Outdoor billboards—including a placement in Times Square. You can learn more about this year’s winners and their creative PSAs here.
We asked these young creatives about their thoughts on the best ingredients for an impactful PSA, how to craft a message that resonates with Gen Z and some personal advice on how to refrain from texting and driving. Check out their responses below.
What do you think makes an impactful PSA?
Marcus Marshall, College Grand Prize Winner for Video, One Decision
“A different perspective often helps. It gets people thinking and shows them to examine their decisions in a new light. If you can bring an ‘ah-ha’ or ‘oh!’ moment into your writing, speaking or even your PSA, your piece can go from just informative to life changing. Bringing a little delight along the way is helpful too.”
Alyssa Loffredo, College Grand Prize for Out-of-Home, Be Likeable
“An impactful PSA is one that understands what its target audience cares the most about and uses this to help deliver their message in a relatable way.”
Joshua Rodriguez, High School Grand Prize for Video, The Text
“Connect your video to things that younger audiences can relate to using realism.”
Nathan Perkins, High School Grand Prize for Radio, Let’s Take a Break
“An impactful PSA is one that expresses its message without alienating its audience. All of us are bombarded with messages every day, so we easily tune out the ones that call us out--even when we need to be called out! An effective PSA is able to graciously help the audience to see, that by changing their ways, they can improve their own life and the lives around them.”
Holly Velie, College Third Place for Video, Don’t Go Extinct
"It needs to be short and sweet, in my opinion. It can't be so long that people get annoyed or bored, but it also can't be so short that you don't get the message across. It needs to be something that will grab attention, but not something that will also make you want to look away."
What are your tips for creating a message that resonates with people your age?
Jamicah Moore, College Second Place for Video, Crazy Drive
“Try to take a more nuanced approach when creating a message for young people. They don't want to feel like they're being told to do something. They want to come to that conclusion on their own. Just guide them in that direction.”
Sydni Silverstone, High School Grand for Prize Out-of-Home, Suspense Won’t Kill
“I think the most important tip is to know the audience that is being targeted and find a common ground amongst them. With people my age, we have grown up in a digital world, allowing for connections through the Internet, where people across the globe can communicate within a moment’s notice. This creates a shared pool of knowledge that never existed before, making finding relatable content much easier. For a message to resonate with me and my peers, I think it should be both relevant and relatable to the current generation and our norms of social interaction through online media.”
Christian Nieva-Devela, College Second Place for Video, Crazy Drive
“Understand that you have to know the ‘box’ to think outside of it—kind of abstract way of thinking.”
Paetyn Monroe, High School Third Place for Video, An Annoying Friend
“Don’t try to be ‘hip’ or ‘trendy’ with the kids…you will just be laughed at. Just go with the basics and you will get a reaction.”
Kade Freeman, College Second Place for Video, Crazy Drive
“It’s not about shock value, it’s about changes in culture. Think about what resonates with you—what would actually make you change your habit? Use that to create your idea. The conviction you have will show through your work”
If you could offer one piece of advice about not texting and driving, what would it be?
Riley Kvalheim, High School Second Place for Video, Stick to Safety
“A text alone is not a matter of life and death. When sent behind the wheel, it becomes one. Whoever and whatever the text involves, it can wait.”
Amanda Baird, College Grand Prize for Radio, Stow Your Phone
“If you don't want to stop texting and driving for yourself, at least stop the bad habit for the sake of your friends and family.”