Apr 11, 2006

Think! before you...

I've been meaning to write about the UK Government's Think! Road Safety campaign, but somehow, it's escaped me. Today, however, it shall not. Oh crap, the boss is coming this way... maybe later... No I'm kidding. The website is here.

I visited this website after downloading a motorcycle video called Perfect Day. It's not an inconsequential sized video, just like the message it carries, but man, it is well-shot and to the point. It is also close to my heart because it portrays what a fundamentally perfect riding day would be like. This is a must watch, visit the media downloads section.

The campaigns target various traffic safety issues pointedly. From teen deaths because of inattention arising from the use of electronics (PDA, cellphones, cell cameras and music players), to bringing home (rather graphically) why the speed limit is 30 mph, and why 10 mph more is too much and so forth. Each of the ad sets comes in prints/stills and in video. They're all quite good. Obviously, most of them are quite graphic (in terms of the usual viewer discretion disclaimer) but all of the ads make almost perfect sense, spew clear messages and get right to the point.

A campaign like this, obviously, is rooted deeply in data and research. The difference between us, in India, and then, in the UK, is that they know how and why people are crashing into each other. At least statistically. They know that most fatal street crashes are the result of what would appear to be minor speeding over the set limit. Or that teens who expire in urban UK, are usually found to be fiddling with some electronic device, rather than watching the two-tonne cage heading for them. I wish we knew as well. We make educated guesses. Like we say, since Pune has the largest two-wheeler population, it must have the largest number of two-wheeler casualties. Probably true?

Also, the campaign is a clever one. Instead of Delhi Police type campaign: lots of cops, lots of challans (tickets), white banners proclaiming road safety week, newspaper reports of record collections (is that what a road safety week is about, then? Revenues?) and badly designed 'government template' adverts in the paper, that carry more info on 'Road Safety Week' than what to do to actually make your drive/ride safer. The Think! campaign is cool. It isn't a campaign that pretends, it's a campaign that sets out to involve the public, with gripping ads, concise messages and clear benefits to those who will listen. Result? Not one media house has ignored the campaign, it has been noticed and won awards and many motorcycle mags, usually the first to pick holes in government schemes like Think! are actually appreciative of it.

Lessons for the way we organise and execute our traffic safety campaigns, then?

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