By Melissa Paciulli, Manager of Research, and Tracy Zafian, Research Fellow
UMass at Time Square! A billboard designed by UMass-Amherst students to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving is currently being displayed in Times Square in New York. The billboard will also be displayed on Route 9, Interstate 495 near Lawrence and Methuen and I-290 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Other locations around the country will also display the sign.
The billboard was created with the help of the UMass Adlab at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass-Amherst, under the guidance of Isenberg professor Elizabeth Miller by UMass student Kyle Pandiscio (’19) and now graduate Julia Keefe. At the UMass Adlab, students develop advertisement and campaign images to market “change” for real-life clients.
As described in this UMass press release, Keefe and Pandiscio won the Project Yellow Light billboard Public Service Annoucement (PSA) competition with a billboard design autocorrecting “Don’t Text and Drive” to “Don’t Text and Die” to enforce the concept that a texting accident can occur in a split second. Their billboard design was selected from 1,150 entries. Pandiscio and Keefe realized the irony of creating a billboard when the campaign’s whole point is for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, so they maximized the impact by making the format the text message itself. “When people are driving, the last thing [we] want to do is create a billboard that is distracting,” Pandiscio told the Boston Globe.
The Project Yellow Light competition was sponsored by the Ad Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration, the National Organizations for Youth Safety, U-Haul, Mazda, Clear Channel, and I Heart Radio. The contest included categories for video, radio and billboard PSAs, with entries submitted by high school and college students.