The moment before the accident: Clemenger slows down tragedy in new NZTA spot

  • Advertising
  • January 13, 2014
  • Damien Venuto
The moment before the accident: Clemenger slows down tragedy in new NZTA spot

Clemenger BBDO has once again delivered for the New Zealand Transport Agency with a new ad that targets drivers who think it’s safe to exceed the speed limit by only a few kilometres per hour.

But rather than simply chastising speedsters with a series of facts on the dangers of driving fast, the new ad changes the conversation about safe driving by pointing out that anyone on the road can make a mistake and that a seemingly insignificant contravention of the speed limit can remove valuable moments from your reaction time.

The script for the ad was written by Clemenger BBDO copywriter Emily Beautrais, and was then brought to life by the production company Finch under the guidance of director Derin Seale.

Finch and Clemenger previously collaborated on the “flying objects” spot, which gave a graphic slow-motion depiction of what happens during a collision, and Clemenger’s executive creative director Philip Andrew says that he is continually impressed by the efforts of the production company.

“Finch was fantastic throughout the process [for the new campaign]. Derin is a thoughtful director, who took his time to bring Emily’s script to fruition. We are delighted with the end result,” he says. 

The sombre hypothetical conversation between two drivers about to collide is a marked divergence from the humorous dialogue that typified Clemenger's “blazed as” campaign, but the seriousness of the new ad has not stopped viewers from watching it.

Since its release on 5 January the video has already been watched on YouTube over five million times, and the Twitter response has also been positive, with many users encouraging others to share the video.

But Andrew says that these statistics are only one measure of success.  

“While those results are exciting, the real success will be achieved on the roads. If we can get the average speed on New Zealand’s roads down from 107 or 108 kilometres per hour to about 100 kilometres per hour, then the campaign will be regarded as a success. Our job is to save lives,” he says.

Statistics from the New Zealand Transport Agency claim that 83 people were killed and 408 seriously injured in speed-related crashes last year, and the National Business Review recently reported that there were seven road deaths over the holiday period (one up from the same time last year).

The NZTA website explains that the “campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they're driving." And that "a person may be a good driver but [it] can't [be denied] that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human.”

Andrew concurs with this sentiment, explaining that it was really the motivation underpinning the entire concept.

“For a long time we’ve focused on the perpetrator: the blatant speedster, the drunk driver or the reckless chance-taker. This campaign is different, because it touches on a human truth and it depicts the road as a social place, where people should behave accordingly. It’s saying that the road isn’t just your playground,” he says.

The video has also caught the attention of media abroad, with the Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post all publishing articles that commend the message of the campaign.


Client: New Zealand Transport Agency
Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Wellington
Executive creative director: Philip Andrew
Creative director: Brigid Alkema
Copywriter: Emily Beautrais
Art director: Emily Beautrais, Philip Andrew
Agency producer: Marty Gray
Group account director: Linda Major
Account manager: Bethany Omeri
Director of digital innovation: Thomas Scovell
Media business director: Annabelle Wilkinson
Media account director: Emily Goulden
Principal scientist (NZTA): Paul Graham
Advertising manager (NZTA): Rachel Prince
Production company: Finch
Director: Derin Seale
Producer: Karen Bryson
Executive producer: Rob Galluzzo
DoP: Stefan Duscio 
Offline: Toybox
Editor: Drew Thompson (Method Studios)
VFX: Fin Design + Effects
VFX Supervisor: Stuart White
Colourist: Ben Eagleton 
Sound design: Simon Lister
Sound design Studio: Nylon Studios

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  • Media
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  • Radio New Zealand
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