New Zealand Transport Agency

Issue 41 | December 2016



Clemenger BBDO New Zealand

Creative Team

Executive Creative Director (Clemenger) Brigid Alkema Creative Director (Clemenger) Emily Beautrais Copywriter (Clemenger) Emily Beautrais Art Director (Clemenger) Steve Hansen Agency Sound Creative (Clemenger) Mike Gwyther

Production Team

Agency Producers Marty Gray Jen Gasson Director (Curious Films) Ric Cantor Executive Producer (Curious Films) Matt Noonan

Other Credits

Group Account Director Linda Major Account Director Bethany Omeri Account Manager Matt Barnes Principal Scientist (NZ Transport) Paul Graham Principal Advisor (NZ Transport) Rachel Prince Snr Education Advisor (NZ Transport) Adrian Stephenson Managing Partner (OMD) Matt McNeil Snr Account Manager (OMD) Katy Baker Account Manager (OMD) Georgia McNaught


April 2016


In New Zealand it was established that driver distraction was a factor in up to 30% of crashes. 98% of young people thought that using a mobile phone while driving was dangerous yet 75% admitted to still doing it.

Most of the time, people used their mobile phones instinctively. But there were certain situations when they evaluated whether or not it was ok to use them. These moments were when they thought someone might have an issue with what they were doing.

The challenge was to try to make it socially unacceptable to use a mobile phone when driving.


Research had said most passengers felt uncomfortable when their driver reached for their phone. But they weren't speaking up.

The idea was to give passengers a way they could make their discomfort tangible by doing something in real cars in real life. Something that would remind the driver to put safety before the need to check their phones.

Phone palming. To phone palm a driver was to place your hand in his or hers as they reached for their mobiles.

Humour was essential in the online film to make passengers feel confident in doing it and drivers accepting of the intervention.


The idea struck a chord with the audience. In just the first week, the video had over 52 million views. Media outlets around the world published it and got people commenting on the issue. Within the first week, five other countries had asked to run the work on air locally. Most importantly, in the first week one million people SHARED the film and the idea with their friends. Countless people commented "I'm going to do this to you" including key influencers like the Kardashians. Social pressure was built even before the target audience got in their cars. Now passengers had 'Phone Palming' as a tool, they could – literally – get between drivers and their phones

Our Thoughts

There's nothing massively clever about how this idea was delivered. An online video, put in front of people on YouTube and Facebook.

That's what is so reassuring. Because there is plenty that's massively clever about the thinking behind it. At a time when agencies are under enormous pressure to justify themselves to clients who are increasingly being seduced by adtech and createch (yuck!), here's an agency showing what good, old-fashioned insight-driven planning skills can do and how intelligent creative work still has the power to change behaviours.


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