12 April 2011

Enjoy the Ride Takes Off

The Western Australian government's road safety campaign 'Enjoy the Ride' - an inspired and very clever piece of communication!

Reposted in full from the ABC, 11 April 2011

'Within minutes of its launch, the 'slow down and enjoy the ride' commercial had been viewed by thousands of people around the world.

The three minute Office of Road Safety ad was broadcast simultaneously on three television stations last month but its spread online has been rapid in its own right.

In simple terms, the campaign encourages motorists to slow down.

It hardly sounds compelling but after decades of road safety advertising that has had a limited effect on the state's road toll, this campaign appears to be getting the message through.

So much so, people from around the world have been logging on to YouTube to view it, and they are doing it over and over again.

So what's so different this time around?

The campaign has been two years in the making.

Derry Simpson from 303 Advertising says she spent countless hours poring over research, listening to focus groups and watching old campaigns.

She says it became immediately clear that if this campaign was to be effective, a new approach would be needed.

"We needed to move away from the enforcement and consequence model," she said.

"It was becoming quite clear to me that a lot of the traditional campaigns were becoming a form of wallpaper."

Derry Simpson says more than 80 per cent of people admit to speeding but men aged 17 to 30, who are in the highest risk group, were becoming especially resistant.

"I could see that the ads were starting to lose traction and that particularly younger males were very quick to dismiss them," she said.

"The problem is, somewhere along the line, most of those people think they are in control, and they think their speeding is ok."

Slow Movement

The concept that would eventually shape the ad fell into place when the speed of life was taken into account.

An Italian group dedicated to slowing down life's pace, whether it be cooking, travelling or parenting, came to be known as the 'slow movement' and broadly refers back to when life was simpler.

It began in 1999 but its popularity has surged in recent years thanks to social media.

A professor of social marketing Rob Donovan says it is clear the ad has struck a chord.

"I think what the Office of Road Safety has done is picked up on a social movement and embedded an advertisement in that; they have made it something that is broader than just slowing down on the road," he said.

He says the ad's appeal is broad because it has been framed in a positive way.

"What they [the advertising company] is doing is tuning into the underlying need that people have about wanting to slow their lives down and do things in a less complicated way.

"This campaign taps into the anxiety that people have about what they might be missing out on while they are stressed and rushing from place to place," he said.

"It's not that people are stepping back and going wow what a great road safety campaign, they are going wow, what a great idea about how I should live my life."

In a major coup, internationally known author and Slow Movement contributor Carl Honore has also come on board with the campaign.

It's the first time the author of 'In Praise of Slow' has chosen to endorse a road safety campaign, despite numerous requests from around the world.

Going Viral

Even those closely involved with the 'Enjoy the Ride' campaign were surprised at how quickly it took off on the internet and other social media.

Since its launch on March 19th the ad has been 'tweeted' 314 times, there have been 207 blog posts since, and more than half of those were recorded in the last week.

5,104 people have shared the clip on Facebook.

The clip posted on YouTube has had over 63,000 views and almost 30,000 of those were in the last week alone.

The Office of Road Safety's director of strategic communications Roger Farley says the ad is reaching those who are typically the most elusive.

"What's interesting is that those people who are tweeting and facebooking and blogging about this campaign are the younger audience who are very media savvy and who are the hardest to get a message through to," he said.

He says the move to create a more positive campaign rather than one which focussed on shock tactics has been a success.

"We have turned the whole thing on its head and lots of people have come to us and told us that things are getting too fast paced so that's why the advertisement is making such a difference," he said.

"We have had such a positive response and people are actually saying wow this is fantastic, where can I get a copy of it, can I buy it? I mean that is unheard of. "

It was interesting because we purposely kept road safety out of the equation until the final scenes.

It was more about the other things in life that can be improved if you slow down, and then road safety comes in at the end," he said.

Mr Farley says there was some concern about the strategy.

"There was a lot of anxiety associated with the campaign because we really were doing this for the first time.

We had a fair idea it was going to be a success but people have really taken the message on board, above and beyond what we ever could have anticipated," he said.

The council's chairman D'Arcy Holman says the campaign was a real change of thinking but it's been a total success.

"Every dollar that we have to spend on road safety campaign is so precious so we certainly can't afford to have advertising out there that isn't effective," he said.

He says the ad is just one part of a campaign.

"We need to remember this will be used in conjunction with other road safety messages.

The concern is that the minute you take those other campaigns away, then people will start to speed again, they will start to drink drive," he said.

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