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Ad of the Day: A Driver Looks Back Once, and Then Forever, in This Beautifully Bleak PSA


It's been a while since we've seen a really brutally depressing road-safety PSA. But Ireland obliges—with help from master craftsman director Martin Stirling—in the spot below, which warns against behavior you might not even have considered dangerous.

The issue, it turns out, is turning around to look at your child in the backseat of your car. I don't recall any PSA focused on this particular issue, but according to Ireland's Road Safety Authority, it's a real hazard.

"Driving with a child in your car can be a staggering 12 times more distracting than when driving with a mobile phone," the RSA says, adding that "the most vulnerable person in your car can present the biggest danger."

This is remarkably illustrated in the new spot, by ad agency Irish International.

It begins decades after an accident, as the camera spins around a woman who's clearly—and unsettlingly—lost in thought. Each subsequent scene goes back in time, focusing on the same woman as she gets younger, as the camera keeps spinning around her and she appears to turn her head with it.

The final scene horrifyingly explains what has happened to this woman, and the camerawork is revealed to embody the very innocuous movements that led to the tragedy.

Stirling does a great job here, which isn't surprising—after all, this is the guy who directed last year's incredible "Most Shocking Second a Day Video" for Save the Children, about the crisis in Syria. But beyond the technical skill at play, the concept is also brilliant. The spinning camera not only references the behavior to be avoided, it also generates claustrophobia—a sense of the mind reeling—which may well approximate the feeling of endless guilt across a lifetime.

The spot is a minor masterpiece. And whether or not you realized that looking back at your kid in the car was a potentially fatal mistake, chances are you'll think twice about doing so in future.

Client: Road Safety Authority, Ireland
Agency: Irish International
Director: Martin Stirling

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