A controversial billboard by the highway on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, Canada is encouraging drivers to text and drive. But there's more to it than meets the eye (video below).
The giant black and white ad says "TEXT AND DRIVE" in large letters with "Wathan Funeral Home" underneath. Angry drivers who search for the funeral home online are confronted with a website that acts as a public service announcement.
Once users visit the site, WalthanFuneral.com, they soon find out that Wathan Funeral Home is bogus and the billboard was just a clever way of sending the message that texting while driving is fatally dangerous.
The site’s message says:
If you're here, you've probably seen our "Text and Drive" billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you'd be right.
It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we're not a funeral home.
We're just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving. That's right. More. And while most people wouldn't even think about drinking and driving, over half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while behind the wheel. That's more than half of the drivers on the road today risking their lives, their passengers' lives and the lives of their fellow motorists and pedestrians.
Which should make you even madder than our billboard did.
The ad company, Cieslok Media, says they created it as a way to get people thinking about the repercussions of texting and driving, according to AdWeek.
"With an out-of-home inventory situated in high traffic, high-impact locations, it made sense to leverage our digital sign on the Gardiner to amplify this message for the general public good," says Cieslok president and CEO Jorg Cieslok.
"People see and hear the words 'Don't text and drive' almost every day, but the number of people doing it keeps going up and up," says Mylene Savoie, managing director of John St. Montreal. "So we wanted to think of a different way of saying it that would make people think about the real consequences. Which is where 'Text and drive' came from."
As shrewd as the ad is, what happens when people are distracted by reading the small print on the billboard?