Launch of “Speak Up” Contest


May 8, 2007

Contacts: Elizabeth Osborn, 202-842-3600 x261
Susan Jacobsen, 212-984-1919

UR the Spokesperson Campaign Marks National Youth Traffic Safety Month with Launch of “Speak Up” Contest

Car Crashes #1 Killer of Teens in U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC – May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month and The Advertising Council’s UR the Spokesperson campaign is joining forces with the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) to help raise awareness by encouraging young passengers to “Speak Up” about their own experiences with reckless driving.

The goal of National Youth Traffic Safety Month, which is organized by NOYS, is to encourage teens to bring attention to traffic safety issues by taking action in their communities, such as reminding people to buckle up, enforcing stronger traffic laws or educating the public about distracted driving. The UR the Spokesperson campaign encourages young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 to be the “spokesperson” against reckless driving and to “speak up” when they are riding with a young driver and don’t feel safe.

“Car crashes are far and away the number one killer of teens in the United States. In 2005 alone, car crashes claimed the lives of nearly 3,500 young adults, and the risk for our youth only increases as we head into prom and graduation season,” says General Thurbert Baker, Attorney General of Georgia and President of the National Association of Attorneys General. “National Youth Traffic Safety Month is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the tragic consequences of reckless driving and to educate young passengers about the importance of speaking up.”

The UR the Spokesperson “Speak Up” contest is an opportunity for teens to share their personal experiences as the “spokesperson” and how they made the decision to “speak up” to a reckless driver. Contestants should submit essay or video entries that are funny, imaginative or serious – as long as they are original. Winners could receive a video iPod or be featured in a UR the Spokesperson web banner ad. For more information, visit

“Our research has shown that a teenager’s need for social connection is his or her most valuable asset,” says Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. “Like NOYS’ outreach efforts, the UR the Spokesperson campaign is driven by the strength of that peer-to-peer social connection. We also found that while they feel invincible, teen passengers will speak up if threatened by a friend’s driving, therefore becoming the ‘spokesperson.’ Because of the strength of the social connection, the teen driver will listen,” Conlon says.

Launched in January 2007, the UR the Spokesperson campaign includes a series of radio and television public service advertisements (PSAs), a new campaign Web site, and will soon release a toolkit for classroom and community-based outreach. Created pro bono by North Castle, a Stamford-based advertising agency that specializes in reaching teens, the PSAs feature a stereotypical, smarmy, over-the-top spokesperson who appears in the car to deliver safe driving tips. The ads conclude with the message “There is no spokesperson to prevent reckless driving. There’s only you. Speak up.” For more information on the campaign and the “Speak Up” contest, or to view and listen to the PSAs, please visit

The UR the Spokesperson Campaign and the Ad Council

The UR the Spokesperson campaign is a public education initiative sponsored by the Ad Council and a coalition of state Attorneys General and consumer protection agencies to save lives and prevent youth reckless driving. The Ad Council ( is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection Agencies

In 2002, a settlement was reached between the 50 states (and Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the Ford Motor company that resolved allegations of deceptive trade practices relating to the sale and advertising of Ford sport utility vehicles. The state Attorneys General and consumer protection agencies were responsible for allocating those portions of the settlement moneys which were earmarked for public education campaigns, including $3 million for a youth-targeted public service advertising campaign.

National Organizations of Youth Safety

NOYS ( is a collaborative network of national organizations and federal agencies that serve youth and focus on youth safety and health. Through this network, NOYS influences more than 80 million young people ages 5 to 24 and adult advisors and supervisors. The mission of NOYS is to promote youth empowerment and leadership and build partnerships that will save lives, prevent injuries, and promote safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth.