Friday, June 13, 2008

Mettez vos mains sur le volant!

An amusing viral video that has attracted almost 200,000 hits on YouTube in about three days turns out to be a publicity gimmick by a company that manufactures hands-free mobile telephone equipment.

The video, which appears under the misleading title "Kid fails driving test 5 times in a day," is a sort of "candid camera" prank, in which several California driving teachers are the targets of the joke.

Here's the video

As you can see, the "kid" is not "fail[ing] his driving test," but rather is taking driving lessons from exasperated instructors.

Since the video ends with a plug for "," most people should have got the clue that this was a commercial production, and not some teenager playing amateur "Punk'd" with a hidden dashboard camera.

The truth came out in a FishbowlLA post earlier yesterday:
The video is part of a marketing strategy for a company called to raise the awareness of the new laws in California, as well as, to raise the brand awareness of their hands-free mobile devices in the US. Parrot funded the production of the video.

The video is not scripted. The company installed hidden cameras in the car and hired "John" to test the limits of these driving instructors using his cell phone.
Who is, you may ask?

According to its corporate web site,
Based in Paris and founded in 1994 by Henri Seydoux, its Chairman and CEO, Parrot S.A. is one of the profitable, fast-growing companies that have emerged from the "start-up" generation. Since its beginnings, Parrot's core competence has been the technologies for embedded noise-robust voice recognition and signal processing, with applications in mobile computing and mobile communications.
Parrot also hosts a web site called "," which provides a guide to hands-free driving legislation across North America. Among other things, it offers this useful map of U.S. states and Canadian provinces that prohibit (or are soon to prohibit) driving while using a cellphone or PDA or similar device:

This gives a whole new meaning to "red, blue, and purple states."

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