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Don’t let your ass make an accidental 9-1-1 call

Don’t let your ass make an accidental 9-1-1 call


That’s the underlying message of this ad for E-Comm, the organization that manages emergency “9-1-1” calls in the Vancouver region of Canada. Using a custom QR code, the ad asks smartphone users to use their reader apps to uncover the reality of this scary-looking scene:


The text under the landing page image reads:

For 9-1-1 operators, the difference between singing and screaming can be a tough call. Every accidental call takes resources away from helping those with real emergencies.

Help us prevent accidental calls to 9-1-1 by following these tips:

TIP 1:
Lock your keypad and secure your phone in a case before you put it in your pocket or toss it in your purse.

TIP 2:
Don’t pre-program 9-1-1 into any phone.

TIP 3:
If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake, stay on the line and let the call-taker know.

TIP 4:
Share these tips to help us help.

The resolution image shows a smartphone user accidentally dialling 911 during a hairbrush singalong (even though it’s motionless in her knapsack?) but the interaction of decoding the partial image feels more like a message that the caller has misinterpreted something they’ve seen or heard as an emergency.

While perhaps unintentional, this impression runs contrary to the vigilance recommended by anti-domestic-violence campaigns (like this excellent 2010 one from London Metropolitan Police).

The follow-up message about preventing misdails, as opposed to mistaken impressions, seems like much more practical advice. But is the clever creative leading viewers down the wrong path?

E-Comm 911
Station X, Vancouver, Canada
Additional credits:
Creative Director: Josh Budd
Art Director: Heather Thrash
Copywriter: Jeff Wasiluk
Designer: Laure Stromboni
Illustrator: Chris Koehler
Producer: Lisa Etchells
Production Designer: Rhoderick Lising
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I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more