The dangers of fun: NZTA puts pressure on the passengers

As well as its focus on the dangers of drugs and booze, NZTA and Clemenger BBDO have also been pushing the dangers of distractions, and while most of the attention has so far been focused on phone use, its Party Crashes campaign aims to show how passengers can be also be the cause of accidents. 

NZTA and Clemenger BBDO have shown how difficult it is to focus on two things at once with some great radio ads and print work that asked drivers to ‘keep them out of the car‘. Now, it’s created a series of passenger portraits that draw viewers in with that looks like young folk cutting loose in the backseat but then hits them with a harsh reality: “Having too much fun in the car can have dangerous consequences.”

As the NZTA website says: “There are many potential causes of driver distraction. Objects, events, or activities both inside and outside the vehicle can cause distraction. In-vehicle distractions could be caused by technology, or passengers. External distractions could be caused by a driver looking at scenery or outdoor advertising.” 

So it’s hard not to make mention of the slightly ironic fact that this campaign is being run in magazine and outdoor. 

Elsewhere, NZTA has taken the Looney Tunes approach with a series of short animations running online and in cinema saying “be a passenger, not a distraction”, with specific executions for men and women. 

It’s also created a game called multi-tasker that shows how difficult it is to do two things at once and created an animation explaining the risks and the science. 

Auckland Transport and Volkswagen have also tried to show the danger of not paying attention on the road with cinema stunts. 

Better roads, safer cars, tougher enforcement and mobile phones (which mean crash victims are able to get medical attention more quickly) have all helped decrease the road toll. So how much credit can those responsible for the advertising take for the improvements to road safety? In this feature on Clemenger BBDO and NZTA’s successful relationship, Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the Dog and Lemon Guide and outspoken road safety campaigner, said when asked about a $400,000 campaign aimed at promoting cycle safety: “Let me be perfectly clear: almost every credible study ever done has concluded that road safety ads don’t work.”

Not surprisingly, NZTA’s advertising manager Rachel Prince disagrees. 

“Advertising is a cog in a big machine,” she says, with better roads, better vehicle technology and better enforcement obviously playing major roles. But she points to a recent study that showed that for every $1 spent on road safety advertising—without any enforcement measures—it saved the country $4 in “social costs”. 

Clemenger BBDO’s Phillip Andrew dismisses the theory as well and says a lot of the positive changes in driver behaviour over the years are simply a result of social pressure. 

“It’s undeniable. That campaign is so heavily tested and it’s so robust that we can certainly take some credit for the way people drive on the road today compared to ten or 15 years ago. When we started working on NZTA, or LTSA as it was known then, the average mean speed if you were categorised as a speeder was 120kmh. Now it’s under the tolerance, around 107-109kmh. That progress hasn’t been made because of engineering or car safety technology. That’s happening because of lobbying and the work we’ve done to get people to accept that there are other people on the road.” 


Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Wellington

Client company: NZ Transport Agency

Brand/product: Road Safety

Executive Creative Director: Philip Andrew

Creative Director: Brigid Alkema

Account director/team: Bethany Omeri

Agency Producer: Scott McMillan

Photography: Meek Zuiderwyk

Retouching: Andy Salisbury

Advertising Manager: Rachel Prince

Principal Scientist: Paul Graham

Senior Education Advisor: Adrian Stephenson

Creative:  Erik Hay

Creative:  Brigid Alkema

Director of Social Marketing:  Linda Major

OMD Account Executive:  Elena Kotsapas

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