It seems an unlikely match. Werner Herzog, director of bizarre but awesome films and documentaries such as “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” and “Grizzly Man”, has joined forces with AT&T to create a documentary on the devastating consequences of texting while driving. Sharing the stories of both victims and perpetrators of texting and driving, the documentary is meant to raise awareness about an issue that continues to impact lives in our technology-driven culture.
In the past, Herzog has been outspoken against product marketing in creative mediums, but explained to the AP that this was entirely different. “This has nothing to do with consumerism or being part of advertising products. This whole campaign is rather dissuading you from excessive use of a product. It’s a campaign. We’re not trying to sell anything to you. We’re not trying to sell a mobile phone to you. We’re trying to raise awareness.”
PSA or ad campaign?
But is it really possible for a company like AT&T to launch any campaign completely free from the ties of consumerism? I would argue that it’s not. They are a company and they sell things. While such a campaign deserves to be noticed and hopefully will have a positive effect on those who can’t put their phones down, anything that AT&T puts out into the world is building their brand and their emotional connection with current customers and would-be customers. That’s just the nature of branding and public relations. While the use of Herzog, a talented, famous and famously anti-marketing director, adds star power and credibility to the documentary, it doesn’t necessarily negate the company’s ultimate connection to the campaign. And why should it? There’s nothing wrong with a company doing something good and predominantly altruistic once in a while; AT&T and Herzog is a great PR move. Having nothing to do with consumerism may be stretch, but let’s hope this particular campaign has some positive impact.