TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017: Auckland Transport’s mission to get hands off phones

The challenge

Young drivers using mobile phones is one of the biggest causes of driver distraction resulting in accidents leading to death and serious injury. These drivers tend to ignore road safety measures and are difficult to engage with, especially for a public sector organisation like Auckland Transport (AT).

Young people, by their very nature, take risks. So making behavioural changes within this group is an exceptionally difficult task.

Significant numbers of drivers are regularly talking, texting and using smartphone technology while driving. Stopping this dangerous behaviour has been a major challenge facing AT. 

The response

The problem, use of smartphones, is coincidentally the solution. AT figured out that harnessing the potential of digital and social media in an emotional way was the route to influencing young drivers.

Additionally AT recognised the important role social influencers could play in order to get the messages accepted in a peer-to-peer fashion. 

This led to the idea of developing a ‘real life’ social feed for fictitious character Sophie.

Sophie lures the viewer into her social world, showing all the fun stuff young people get up to and the perfect lives they project. As the feed progresses, we see a post filmed while driving, followed by three months of nothing and then a depiction of her recovery.

The power lies in the fact that viewers engage with her ‘good life’ feed and then are shocked at the dire reality that results from the consequences of her phone use.

The video ends with the hashtag #myphonestopsinthecar. While this would be a hard sell, AT hoped that the unique approach would be compelling enough to get traction and get people talking and sharing.

AT also trialled two reasonably well-know social influencers in Jayden Daniels and Grace Palmer from Shortland Street, to push the ‘My phone stops in the car’ message through their own channels and undertook a limited cinema campaign given the relevance of the target audience.

The results

YouTube, Facebook and Instagram were used to push out the video and achieved over 600,000 views on YouTube and over 600,000 views on Facebook. There were over 100,000 views of the video by mums who were important in promoting discussions with young drivers.

Most of the reach of the video post was organic on Facebook, i.e. through shares rather than the paid advertising, showing a remarkable degree of engagement.

Post-campaign research demonstrated a 52 percent awareness of the campaign among the target audience and 27 percent of the target audience who had seen the video shared it. 

Public Sector
Campaign Name
My Phone Stops in the Car
Company Name
Auckland Transport
Judge’s comment
“Very clear objectives – well exceeded. Faced with an extremely challenging job in influencing a behaviour change among their target audience, yet generated a sound marketing strategy to drive a meaningful shift. Clever and well-targeted creative of an international standard. A fresh take on a shocking and real issue—featuring a very relatable and touching story, which was well targeted and clearly impacted this audience.”
Marketing Partners
Work Communications
AT Metro, Auckland Transport (x2), Commission for Financial Capability, Health Promotion Agency 

  • This story will also appear in the Awards issue of NZ Marketing. 
  • To read more on the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017, click here.

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