Shock and awe

wales A county in South Wales, UK has produced a controversial television public service announcement  that illustrates the dangers of texting while driving. 

You can view the entire PSA here.  Although it is dramatized, it is graphic and rather disturbing, nonetheless.

Although the spot certainly is memorable, the bigger issue is whether it will change behavior.   It might, but I’m skeptical.   The use of scare tactics to change antisocial behavior like drinking, drug abuse, and reckless driving seems to have a mixed track record of success.

A couple of well-known social marketing campaigns that have made an impact on behavior have been more subtle, but more personal.  Like the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign, which essentially makes Texans feel like a traitors to their state if they litter; or a successful anti-binge drinking campaign in Montana, which emphasizes that most kids do NOT binge drink, and therefore if you do, you are outside the norm.

Of course, more effective than any PSA would be laws, vigorously enforced, that make texting while driving illegal.

What do you think?  Will this spot work?