BMW has launched an ad campaign to discourage people fr... BMW has launched an ad campaign to discourage people from texting and driving (BMW).
BMW recently launched an ad campaign against texting and driving, starting with an arresting commercial that starts off humorous and ends tragically.

The automaker, which was once derided for installing an entertainment system that was exceedingly difficult and distracting to use, is trying to convince people to use technology responsibly.

Developed by Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, the "DON'T TXT AND DRIVE" commercial juxtaposes the overprotective parent with the negligent act of texting at the wheel. Vignettes appear on the screen of a father bathing his child (wearing swimmies so he won't drown) and a mother lathering sanitizer all over her child's hands and arms. And yet at least one of the parents gets behind the wheel with a child in the back seat and starts texting.

"Parents are so doting of their young children in terms of the care and attention and what we do to protect our kids," said Trudy Hardy, the manager of BMW North America's marketing communications and consumer events. "But all of that can be undone in just one second."

The spots began airing mid-June.

The print ads have a similar gravity and intent to play on heart strings.

In one, a texting driver's cellphone blocks the view of a child running.

A pixilated version of the child's shape appears on the phone, blending in with the information on the screen. A ball appears in view from the windshield. Others obscure a deer in the road and truck turning in from a side street, suggesting the preoccupied driver is about to crash.

The print ads will appear in car magazines like AutoWeek, sports magazines like Golf Digest, and influencer books like Vanity Fair and The Economist.

BMW is also doing homepage takeovers where the words "Text Messaging Is Distracting" invades the screen before dissolving into a "Don't Txt And Drive" banner.

Is Texting An Epidemic?

The campaign was borne out of a December 2010 meeting between Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW North America. LaHood has been talking to automakers, asking them to step up and help control the distracted driving problem.

"Distracted driving of any kind, especially texting while driving, is an extremely dangerous activity that costs thousands of lives every year," said O'Donnell. "We developed this campaign to be impactful in hopes of evoking emotion and conveying the serious dangers of distracted driving and its potential consequences."

The U.S. Department of Transportation says nearly 5,500 people died in crashes in 2009 involving a distracted driver. The National Safety Council estimates that each year 100,000 car crashes have been tied to texting and driving while an additional 1.2 million annual accidents involve cell phone use.

And other studies suggest texting while driving is the equivalent of drinking while driving.

Professor David Meyer, who runs the University of Michigan's Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory and is a leading scholar of multitasking, says human beings are just not good at multitasking.

We simply cannot do it safely, he said. Even F-1 race car driver Michael Schumacher can't deal with more than one task at a time

The iDrive Problem

BMW developed a bad reputation in the previous decade for its iDrive system, which forced drivers to scroll through menus to do basic tasks, like changing the radio station. Although many drivers got used to the system, it took drivers' eyes off the road too often. The automaker was roundly criticized for iDrive.

Now in its fourth generation, the iDrive system is much more intuitive. It is less distracting and easier to use.

The system is designed to occupy only two seconds of a driver's attention to make a decision. Three lines of text is the limit for the screen. And drivers can ignore the screen at any time and focus on something more important, like actually driving.

A lot of information is also transmitted through the heads-up display, which is projected onto the windshield so drivers can keep their eyes on the road.

Tom Baloga, vice president of engineering for BMW North America, says it's inevitable that people will bring their cellphones and social media into the car. So the automaker is trying to design around that.

"It is a fine balance," Baloga said. "We understand the world we live in and we realize people want to stay connected. So we're using our research and our technology to integrate the connections to stay connected in a safe manner so that [the driver's] eyes are on the road."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hold on just got a txt. What did i miss?
      • 3 Years Ago
      The U.S. Department of Transportation says nearly 5,500 people died in crashes in 2009 involving a distracted driver. The National Safety Council estimates that each year 100,000 car crashes have been tied to texting and driving while an additional 1.2 million annual accidents involve cell phone use. TEXTING & CELL PHONE USE IS AN ADDICTION!!!! I'll put down my cigarette when you put down your cell phone.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Texting and Driving makes for a really BAD DAY
      • 3 Years Ago
      All I have to say is" Thank you very much BMW "
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ironically, this past Monday during evening rush hour I had to change lanes to get from behind a slow and drifting driver in a BMW. When I came along side the car and glanced at the driver, she was doing some serious texting with her left hand. She never looked up. Maybe she had the fancy BMW on cruise control, or just maybe she was on a suicide/homicide mission.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, thats a powerful commercial. Great ad.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great ad!!! Have to admit, my kids looked like the bike and winter part!! And I have to admit I looked at a text while driving :( NOT any more!!!! Thank you BMW!
      • 3 Years Ago
      A young 18 y/o girl texting on her phone made a left turn right in front of my huband who was traveling through an intersection on a motorcycle. He suffered a broken pelvis, broken scapula, broken collarbone, 11 broken ribs, 2 punctured lungs, broken ankle, broken foot, broken wrist and a slight head injury. He was in a wheelchair for four months. He is recovered but has residual pain. She had minimum insurance which didn't even cover the cost of the bike, much less everything else. Distracted driving is a real problem folks. Just look around you while sitting at a red light and see how many people are on their phones. If you hurt or kill someone and they find out you were using your cell phone, it should carry the same penalty as if you are driving drunk.
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Generally, the stupid one causes others to crash by reacting to their stupid actions, and isnt involved - this is what I have actually witnessed happen many times. This ad does show how fast things can happen. Peoples lives are changed forever, because someone thinks they are able to handle texting and driving or other multitasks while driving, or think they are invincible in SUV's and drive like real idiots. More ads like this need to be shown.
      • 3 Years Ago
      WOW, now that's a POWERFUL message that brings the truth home!!! KUDOS to you BMW!!! I took the pledge long ago and will continue to honor & respect the lives of all by not texting & driving.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ywa, the ad is shocking. I'm not sure, though, that people who text and drive have the mental capacity to underswtand the message.
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