A Sobering Message to Drunk Drivers
Graphic Texas Ad Campaign Features Disfigured Crash Survivor
Listen to Janet Heimlich's report.
Watch the Texas television drunk driving ad featuring Jacqueline Saburido (Note: graphic content).
On Sept. 19, 1999, 20-year-old Jacqueline Saburido and four friends were on their way home from a birthday party when their car was hit near Austin, Texas, by an SUV driven by 18-year-old Reggie Stephey. Saburido was pinned inside the burning car and suffered severe burns over 60 percent of her body. She has had 40 operations and requires more.
Photo: Rob Buck/Texas Department of Transportation
Enlarge image (Note: graphic content)
Watch the Texas television drunk driving ad featuring Jacqueline Saburido (Note: graphic content)
Texas Drunk Driving, By the Numbers
Last year in Texas, nearly 1,800 people died in alcohol-related crashes. About 300 of those killed were teenagers.
More than 25,000 people were injured. Many of those accidents involved underage drinkers.
"I feel very good to do it because I know people can understand a little more what happened to me -- why my life changed completely. So I think for me, for everybody, it's a good opportunity."
Oct. 16, 2002 -- Texas leads the nation in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. And like other states, the Texas Department of Transportation has looked for better ways to get out the familiar life-saving message: don't drink and drive.
A new ad campaign, engineered by Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing in Austin, may be the most effective effort yet at grabbing the attention of teenagers -- thanks largely to the brave efforts of Jacqueline Saburido.
Saburido was horribly burned in a fire that started after the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver. Two others in the car were killed, and Saburido, a native of Venezuela, has made a painful recovery. The ad campaign pulls no punches -- her scarred, disfigured face is featured prominently in posters.
The television spots are even more poignant: it begins by focusing on a black-and-white photo of an attractive young woman, while an unseen narrator describes the night Saburido's car was hit. Then Saburido lowers the photograph to reveal her own face. "This is me after being hit by a drunk driver," she says in the ad.
Janet Lea, vice president Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing, said the spark for the ad campaign came after asking focus groups of 15- to 20-year-olds what would grab their attention and get them to reconsider drinking and driving.
"And what they said was, 'You have to show us real consequences -- you have to show us things that are graphic, we don't get subtle.' And when we heard that from them, we realized that we had maybe soft-peddled the issue before," Lea tells reporter Janet Heimlich.
After reading about Saburido's story, Lea asked the young woman if she would appear in the ad campaign against drunk driving. Saburido says the answer was easy.
"I feel very good to do it because I know people can understand a little more what happened to me -- why my life changed completely," she tells Heimlich. "So I think for me, for everybody, it's a good opportunity."
Heimlich says Lea's agency took special measures when videotaping Saburido. It hired a lighting director from Los Angeles, who used soft lighting to protect her sensitive eyes and improve her appearance. The agency consulted with child psychologists to make sure the ad wouldn't frighten children.
The ad campaign is arresting, but will it work? University of Texas senior Melanie Sharp tells Heimlich the ad made her think twice about a recent night out with her friends. "I... felt a little uncomfortable... even being on the road, being over, like, the legal alcohol limit or whatnot."
The Texas Department of Transportation hosts a special section on the ad campaign featuring Jacqueline Saburido.
Learn more about Saburido's crash, and how you can help her, at helpjacqui.com.
Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing