In October 2019, a giant phone with text animations appeared in the center of the University of Utah’s campus. The display was the centerpiece of a marketing campaign born out partnership between the U and Zero Fatalities, which shared the goal of making texting and driving a social taboo.
It wasn’t the university, government agencies, or interest groups or organizations behind the campaign: it was students.
The U hosts a Student Media department, which includes various forms of student-led teams like the Daily Utah Chronicle, K-UTE, and AdThing.
“At AdThing, we have people from all facets: designers, copywriters, strategists, accountants,” said Kyra Ott, creative director of AdThing, an art student and major player in the implementation of the Distracted Driving Campaign. “From logos to advertisements to consultancy work, we do it all here.”
The AdThing team was approached by a local agency who was teamed with Zero Fatalities, both looking for help advertising on campus.
“They wanted the campaign to get into students’ heads and feel like it was coming from one of their peers,” said Sam Groves, director of strategy at AdThing and writing and rhetoric studies major.
Together, the student staff researched similar campaigns, advertisements and visuals, and brainstormed for weeks to narrow down their ideas. Eventually, the team decided on “You text… I’ll drive.”
The AdThing team wanted to garner student’s attentions. This inspired the giant phone.
“We see people stop by and look at it all the time. It’s certainly started conversations,” Ott said. “After the press event, we would all get coffee, hang out, and watch people see the phone and listen to the responses. That in itself we’d deem successful: we got people talking.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2020 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.