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June 13, 2014 – 2:15 pm ET — UPDATED: 6/14/14 8:15 am ET – adds updated views
Volkswagen AG is warning drivers in China of the dangers of texting and driving, but a video spot used in the effort seems to be resonating with a broader audience on YouTube.
On Sunday, the company released the ad, “Eyes on the Road,” which showed the airing of a public service announcement in a Hong Kong movie theater in March. The clip, as of Saturday morning, had nearly 19 million views on YouTube.
The video begins with moviegoers filing into the theater and settling in their seats. The lights dim and the projector rolls, showing a moving vehicle with the camera angle from the driver’s perspective. A location-based broadcaster sends a text message to everyone in the theater, and the car on screen veers into a tree as the audience checks their phones.
“Mobile use is now the leading cause of death behind the wheel,” the screen reads. “A reminder to keep your eyes on the road.”
VW spokesman Carsten Krebs said the company was prompted to produce the video after VW representatives in China brought the prevalence of distracted driving within the country to their attention.
“In China we have a huge challenge with this topic,” Krebs said. “A lot of people are texting and driving.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states on its Web site that engaging in visual-manual subtasks, such as texting, triples the risk of a vehicle accident.
Volkswagen Import China contracted OgilvyOne Beijing to produce the ad. Krebs said the company is thinking of producing more public service announcements but could not provide details.