Widespread Praise For Herzog's PSA On Texting
“From One Second To The Next,” a heart-wrenching PSA documentary directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, wrangled by BBDO, New York, and commissioned by AT&T with support from Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, has attracted more than 1.6 million views on YouTube since its release last week, gotten a Hollywood premiere, garnered coverage in everything from Mother Jones to Rolling Stone to deathandtaxes and is Adweek’s “Ad of the Day” this morning.
The low-key description for the doc on YouTube hardly conveys the power and emotional impact of the nearly 35-minute film. “Xzavier, Chandler, Debbie, and Reggie all know the horrors of texting & driving firsthand. Watch their stories…,” it reads. It also advises viewers to “take a pledge” and learn more about the dangers of texting while driving at the “It Can Wait” website.
“There are natural breaking points, with a format that tracks four different stories of devastating accidents, told by the people involved -- victims, perpetrators, families, and responding officers,” writes Adweek’s Gabriel Beltrone. “But get through the whole thing,” he advises, even if you have to do it in multiple sittings.
The doc opens with the family of Xzavier Davis-Bilbo, who was 5 when he was hit by a woman texting while driving, Ashley Luthern reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The worst thing that I can’t say to X, which I used to be able to say all the time, ‘Go in the yard and play,’" says his mother, Valetta Bradford, in the documentary. “I can’t say that anymore because if we go play we need to take the suction machine, we need to transfer him over to the ventilator for his chair.”
“Other segments tell the story of a young man who struck an Amish buggie, killing its three passengers; of a woman permanently disabled after being struck by a teenager; and of a young man who sideswiped a car, which then spun into an oncoming truck, killing two passengers in the resulting collision,” Matt Pearce reports in the Los Angeles Times.
Adweek’s Beltrone writes that “the victims may be relatable, but so are the drivers -- they’re just regular guys, like you,” which is “appealing to the viewer’s ego.”
“‘I put my phone away and I save those two men’s lives. It’s that simple,’ a devastated Reggie Shaw says of the crash that killed two rocket scientists, 38-year-old James Furfaro and 50-year-old Keith O’Dell,” reports the Toronto Star. “I want people to look at me and look at what I did and what I caused and say ‘I don’t want to be that guy,’” Shaw says.
Variety’s Pat Saperstein believes it “might be one of the most effective public service messages ever” and reports that it was launched with several 30-second spots.
“With the National Safety Council estimating that 1.6 million crashes each year involve cell phones, it would probably be a good idea for every driver, not just teenagers captive in classes, to watch the difficult but effective PSA,” Saperstein writes.
“This is no hokey drivers-ed scare video, it’s very affecting and anyone whose life has been affected by a car accident may want to steel themselves before watching,” writes NBC News’ Devin Coldewey.
Indeed, on a “Hollywood Prospectus” blog on Grantland titled “Werner Herzog Has Made the Greatest and Most Disturbing Driver’s Ed Movie of All Time,” Steven Hyden cites something Herzog initially told the AP’s Derrik J. Lang: “What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me. There’s a completely new culture out there,” he continued. “I’m not a participant of texting and driving -- or texting at all -- but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us.”
Driving after drinking has been coming at us with some vehemence for more than a century now, as Barron H. Lerner documented so well in One for the Road: Drunk Driving Since 1900. Can you imagine, say, Brown Forman getting together with Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, MillerCoors and Diageo to sponsor a similarly honest documentary about the impact of the misuse of their products? Not in too many victims’ lifetimes, I suspect.