FCB’s award-winning campaign influences driver behaviour from within the car

Working with the New Zealand Police, FCB embarked on a mission to alter drivers’ behaviour by collating road trip playlists and taking over radio stations with 60-80 bpm tempo music, which mirrors the human heartbeat. This initiative earned the agency five Golds at the 2023 Beacon Awards.

FCB’s Survive The Drive FM campaign emerged victorious in the Best Use of Content, Best Small Budget, Social Marketing/Public Service, Creative Media Idea, and Best Use of Insight categories.

Chris Thomas, Group Strategy & Product Director, says the success of this piece of work stemmed from the power of integration to elevate it.

“The ability to bring creative, connections planning, data and media partnerships experts together across the development journey meant we could keep finding new ways to push the work further,” he says.

“It’s this shared relentlessness that really epitomises how we consistently get such successful campaigns like this out in the world.”

The campaign also leveraged emerging research on the influence of music on driver behaviour, which shows that fast music can distract drivers and the safest tempo mimics the human heartbeat of 60-80 bpm.

“It’s easy for campaigns like this that require a bit of bravery to lose their magic as compromises are made in the execution process,” says Thomas. “But, from the outset, our non-negotiable, ‘must haves’ became clear, which empowered us to focus on pushing for the creative data and channel innovation this campaign needed.”

Unlike historical road safety approaches that relied on shock tactics and stern compliance messages, FCB’s research revealed that a staggering 89 percent of drivers believed it was other drivers who contributed to unsafe roads. This led to the unconscious filtering out of traditional road safety messages, as many drivers simply didn’t register that they applied to them.

“So, rather than fighting the uphill battle to consciously change drivers’ minds, we instead challenged ourselves to unconsciously influence their behaviour, inside the car, for the entire road trip.” 

Philippa Allnutt, Head of Connections Planning, says that while it might have been simple to use standard radio to reach drivers inside their cars, the FCB team recognised this approach was not enough.

Traditional radio spots could only have a momentary impact on drivers, not throughout the entire trip, which prompted FCB to seek a more effective solution.

“We needed to get in as content, not advertising and not just a one-off sponsorship either – we needed to take over airwaves. A big ask for any radio broadcaster, so we needed our idea to build from a space of entertainment,” she says.

“There were points in the campaign development where we had to ask ourselves ‘are we really going to be able to pull this off?’ There were a lot of big asks we were putting to our partners to make this a reality, none of them easy. So, the level of collaboration, troubleshooting and hard work that went into this with our partner MediaWorks was outstanding. Because of this, our safety content became a constant in cars over the Easter weekend, up and down the country, across our worst crash zones.”

As for FCB’s future endeavours, Thomas says they will be centred on delivering impactful work that truly makes a difference, remaining focused on creating campaigns that have a lasting impact on their audience. “Work that works. Really hard.”

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Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.

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