Perhaps surprisingly, the subject of road safety has produced some of the most memorable and successful video adverts online.
Who can forget the brute, jump-out-of-your-chair power of THINK's! '#PubLooShocker', a Leo Burnett-produced PSA (public service ad) that terrified offices across the land back in 2013?
Or Volkswagen’s brilliant and innovative 'Eyes On The Road', which boldly aimed to jolt a cinema full of unsuspecting strangers out of driving complacency?
Or, last but by no means least, who remembers the time that AT&T asked documentary auteur Werner Herzog to produce a 30-minute PSA on the issue of texting while driving?
Given the gravity of the issue, road safety inspires both brands and agencies to strive hard to make an impact on viewers, whether that’s through technology, statistics or sheer surprise.
In its latest ad, Samsung opts for the technological route, demonstrating a new invention that’s changing lives (as well as saving them) on Argentina’s roads.
A short opening text informs us that one person dies in a traffic accident in Argentina every hour. In a country crisscrossed by tight one-lane roads, a high proportion of these accidents occur as a result of drivers attempting to overtake when visibility is compromised.
Simple, yet effective
Enter Samsung and its latest innovation, the rather aptly-named ‘Safety Truck’. While it’s essentially a webcam and an electronic billboard attached to an 18-wheeler, the Safety Truck offers a neat solution to a problem that’s plagued drivers for years.
Who hasn’t been in the unenviable position of being stuck behind a massive truck, keen to overtake but with no idea of what might be coming the other way?
With the help of Samsung’s nifty billboard, the driver behind receives a clear view of what’s happening ahead, thereby preventing any rash decisions.
The human element
While it seems that large electronic billboards have become a popular staple of online adverts recently, Samsung has certainly landed on its most humanitarian use.
Besides the benefit to the single driver behind the truck, the brand has also installed this measure across its entire fleet of vehicles, helping a much larger number of people, not to mention hopefully inspiring other trucking companies to follow its lead.
However, given the innovation and altruism involved in the idea, it’s a shame that ‘The Safety Truck’ is slightly underwhelming.
While the concept is certainly ingenious, the ad’s tight focus on statistics and technology produces a piece that feels a little generic; a little lacking in humanity.
Compare this to aforementioned ‘Eyes On The Road’, which makes human reaction its explicit focus, or even Volvo’s recently-released Loving Eyes, and you see - and more importantly feel - the difference.
Produced at the opposite end of the sentimental scale from ‘The Safety Truck’, ‘Loving Eyes’ presents the brand’s new safety system through the eyes of a father and daughter, as the pair grow up. It’s engaging, emotional and has so far out-shared Samsung’s spot by roughly 50,000 shares. That’s not to say that ‘The Safety Truck’ fails to deliver.
On the contrary, the ad’s no-nonsense explication of an important technology displays the kind of technical ingenuity that the Cannes Lions love to celebrate (as Volvo just learned with ‘Life Paint’).
The team at Samsung should be proud to have created something that may legitimately save lives. However, what’s missing is the human story.
The road safety ads we best remember, as well as often being technically complex or laden with information, also understand that online videos must work on an emotional level to have any sort of effect. While brains can get an online video far, it’s heart that takes you the rest of the way.