Everyone knows texting and driving is dangerous, even teens. But many still do it anyway. In an approach to stop the behavior before it begins, Sprint and DoSomething.org are teaming up on a public-service campaign.
"We're all about helping teens mobilize around causes they care about," Brittany Casteneda, a representative of DoSomething.org, tells Marketing Daily. "Texting while driving makes you four times more likely to have an accident."
The effort, "Thumb Wars," uses various media to increase teens' awareness of dangers behind the behavior and pledge to stop it before it starts. At the center of the effort is the Web site www. thumbwars.org, through which teens can order three pairs of "thumb socks," fabric sleeves for thumbs that make it difficult to text (particularly on touch-screen phones).
The site also houses a video PSA featuring Joel McHale and Ken Jeong, of the sitcom "Community." The video begins with maudlin music and serious talk about the dangers of texting while driving. But after Jeong declares that Sprint and DoSomething are "declaring war on thumbs ... that text while driving," the music changes to a more upbeat tempo as the actors promote the thumb socks.
"We wanted to be more fun and not preachy," Casteneda says. "The whole point is to have them serve as a reminder to teens."
The socks come in three pairs to an order, so teens can give pairs out to friends. They also come with tips about where to keep them (such as in a car's glove compartment) and how to engage others in the discussion about not texting and driving (such as posting a picture of oneself wearing thumb socks on their Facebook profile).
Though the idea and outreach came from DoSomething.org, Sprint is helping with its broad reach to publicize the PSA and issue among all of the company's various marketing channels, Casteneda says.
"In 2005 Sprint started a great nationwide program --Focus on Driving -- with educators and law enforcement to educate young drivers on the importance of attentive driving," said Debby Ballard, director of community relations for Sprint, in a statement. "Five years later as texting and other wireless activities have become a daily part of our lives, Sprint is proud to join DoSomething.org in this critical next step to get more teens engaged on the benefits of safe driving habits."