Awkward…yet effective?

The soundtrack of ‘Hello’, originally by Lionel Ritchie, primes the viewer for a love story, yet what they get is a humorous bent to a serious message that is more often portrayed by graphic vehicle accident scenes with horrific crying and sirens in the background.

th Consumers are certainly taking notice of the new ad released on YouTube by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) where drivers hear their mobile phones receive a text message and reach for it while driving.  The driver’s movement is ‘misinterpreted’ by the passenger who reaches to hold their hand.  This results in some very awkward responses from the drivers, much to the amusement of the viewers. 

The campaign has been aimed at those drivers in their 20s who are constantly using their mobile phones. Whilst they agree that mobile phone use while driving is dangerous, their behaviour does not match their attitude. The NZTA are hoping to change that with this campaign which has been released with a large online focus.

It’s clear to see that marketers have determined consumers are motivated by the emotions of embarrassment, guilt, and love and are appealing to those in an attempt to influence consumer decision-making.  In combination with evoking those emotions is the pull  of both the consumer’s need for safety and security and their social needs; both very important according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs  (Iacobucci, 2014, p.20).

Previously, campaigns of this kind tended to focus on the negative effects of the behaviour; a kind of operant conditioning if you will.  Have consumers become so  immune to on-screen violence and road-toll statistics that a change of tack was required?  Perhaps the information load in campaigns of that nature was too high; Broniarczyk and Griffin (2014, p.610) would suggest it was just too much for our brains to process.

Whilst the true measure of campaign effectiveness will be the reduction of vehicle accidents caused by mobile phone use, it is clear to see that the campaign has struck a chord with the targeted age group by the number of online views, and the positive evaluations left as comments.

Responses to the Hello (2016) campaign range from ‘awesome on so many different levels’ to …

‘It’s too easy to publish numbers of crashes and death tolls to generate a hard-hitting messages. If you consume enough media you become desensitised to it anyway. A humorous take on a serious topic allows you to let it resonate with positive effect because it links back to an accepted concept associated with humour (a positive thought). Images of sad broken people, twisted metal and scary statistics means your reference point is coming from a concept initiated with fear (a negative thought).’

Personally, I love this ad, it appeals to me in so many ways.  That awkward feeling is memorable, the responses are amusing, and the message is clear…don’t reach for your phone while driving unless you are trying to ‘put the moves’ on your passenger.

Written by: Connie Sirmans (213219051)

Username: conniesirmans



Broniarczyk, SM & Griffin, JG 2014, ‘Decision difficulty in the age of consumer empowerment’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24 (4), 608-625.

Hello 2016, YouTube, NZ Transport Agency, 27 March, retrieved 3 April 2016, <;.

Iacobucci, D 2014, Marketing Management (MM), 4th Edition, South-Western, Cenage Learning, Mason.

New Zealand Transport Agency 2016, ‘Mobile phones’, retrieved 3 April 2016, <;.



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