Road safety ad campaigns

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Australian road safety ad campaigns are famous for being confronting and controversial, with TAC Victoria making claim to some of the most powerful. Addressing issues of speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, drink driving, driver fatigue, and more, these ads seek to inform and change our behaviour on the roads. From the witty to the shocking, we look back on some of the most memorable road safety ad campaigns to air.

'Speeding. No one thinks big of you' AKA the 'pinkie' campaign

Launched June 2007, NSW Centre for Road Safety (formerly the RTA)

This ad, targeted at young drivers, was intended to make speeding seem 'uncool' and socially unacceptablei. The ad undermines the speeding male character's social status by having the people he's trying to impress laugh at him and do the 'pinkie' signal - a hand sign to suggest that he's lacking in size elsewhere (hence the “no one thinks big of you")!

The 'pinkie' campaign won multiple advertising awards, including the Grand Effie and Most Original Thinking award.

The campaign won multiple advertising awards, including the Grand Effie and Most Original Thinking award at the Australian Effie Awards 2009 and the 'Social Marketing' category at the Australian Marketing Institute Awards 2008i.

'The Ripple Effect' AKA 'Everybody Hurts'

Launched July 2010, Traffic Accident Commission Victoria

The idea behind this campaign was to show the impact of a speeding-related death on the lives of his family, friends, and the emergency services personnel who attempted to save his lifeii. The 23 characters featured are real and their lives were affected by the very real event that killed 19 year old Luke Robinson in March 2010. The campaign, also titled “Everybody Hurts", involved 23 individual edits that were put together in a 3 minute version and aired on the 25 July 2010.

'Only a little bit over?'

Launched December 2003, Traffic Accident Commission Victoria

This campaign, launched in 2003, is now in its sixth "phase". TAC explains the message of the series of advertisements: 'if you drink and drive over the [Blood Alcohol Content] limit, you are breaking the law and endangering the lives of innocent passengers and other road users'iii. The 'only a little bit over' tagline is talking about being a little bit over the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit, and the ads depict serious situations with the blasť 'only a little bit' tagline. This video is the latest in the campaign, released December 2011.

Wake up to the signs

Launched September 2009 by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, then taken on with the 'Wake Up to the Signs' tagline by the Road Transport Authority NSW

The two campaigns aired in Queensland and NSW sought to address the problem of driver fatigue. Studies have shown that driver fatigue deteriorates driving skills just as alcohol or speeding wouldiv; tiredness is a major contributor to Australia's road death and injury toll, and has been identified as a key factor in 16% of fatal crashes on NSW roadsv. This campaign was about educating drivers about fatigue.

The two 'wake up to the signs' campaigns aired in Queensland and NSW sought to address the problem of driver fatigue.

According to the RTA, the three key messages of this campaign were:

In terms of features Google's Voice Actions for Android lets the useriv:

Enjoy the Ride

Launched March 2011, Office of Road Safety Western Australia

Taking a creative and innovative approach, this campaign hopes to change behaviour on the road by getting us to take life easy. The principle behind this ad, free from scare tactics and heart-wrenching re-enactments, is that if we slow-down in all areas of our lives, we will be less stressed and less likely to speed on the roadsvi.

According to the Office of Road Safety, '70% of people say they live hectic lives, admit to speeding on the road, while only 40% of people who say they live more balanced lives admit to speeding'vi.

The campaign won two Gold Effie awards at the 2012 Australian Effie Awardsvii, the Campaign of the Year and Television Ad of the Year at the 2012 Campaign Brief awards, and the 'Ad Campaign of the Year' (2012) from Adnewsviii. Check out the Enjoy the Ride Web site for more information about the campaign and taking life at a slower pace.

i NSW Centre for Road Safety, 2011, The Pinkie Campaign,

ii Transport Accident Commission Victoria, Current Speed Campaign,

iii Transport Accident Commission Victoria, Drink Drive Campaign History,

iv NSW Strategic Communications, Wake up to the signs,

v NSW Centre for Road Safety, 2012, Wake up to the signs,

vi Office of Road Safety WA, About Us,

vii The Communications Council, 2012, Media release: The 2012 Grand Effie Award Goes to 303Lowe’s ‘Enjoy The Ride’,

viii Road Safety Council of Western Australia, March 2012, Road Safety Network e-Newsletter,