The latest Scottish Government Ad campaign for improving cyclist safety has been met with a fair amount of controversy from the cycling community for missing the point of road safety.
The Drums latest “Ad of the Day” is another example which will probably further enflame the opinions of cyclists as they feel that they aren’t being listened too.
The agency Newhaven behind the Ad is a great agency and one that I most certainly certainly hold in the highest of regards, but have they missed the mark with this ad campaign?
I myself am a keen cyclist coving around 100 miles a week on Edinburgh city streets as well as blazing the 7 stanes trails whenever I can, and have had the pleasure of working with Newhaven on other Scottish Government Road Safety Ad Campaigns.
It’s always difficult critiquing another agencies campaign, we don’t know what the brief defined as the goals , but lets run on the mass assumption that the main goal was to “reduce cycling injuries and fatalities on the roads and not to use shock tactics”. The Scottish Government (to my knowledge) has always shied away from shock tactics.
If that is the brief, I think that the TV campaign is a reasonable approach to the problem, the execution of the Ad is humorous enough to be endearing and memorable, but the sad fact is it will have only a minor impact on the statistics. Although every single percentage point is someones life potentially ruined through impatient and/or careless driving, hence any improvement on the stats can only be a good thing.
One of the main arguments from the cycling masses against this campaign is that we’re all people, we should be reducing the “us and them” mentality. The goal should be to increase understanding and respect not to further alienating cyclist by comparing them to a middle class luxury form of leisure.
Although the Ad is very well executed, I believe this was a massive opportunity missed.
The bottom line is cyclists are not horses, cyclists are people, soft squidgy bags of meat that burst open like the first cut into a haggis on burns night. It’s the implications of being impatient, being careless that needs to be driven home and attitudes changed.
But this isn’t the Ad Agencies fault, I think there needs to be a change of policy at the Scottish Government. Shock tactics are not pleasant they can be frightening, unnerving, but is that 30 seconds of pain that increases understanding but could potentially save lives.
A public safety video focussed around texting and driving created by the Gwent police department is incredibly graphic, it is difficult to watch, painful from the outset, but it has the intrinsic power to change the publics perception of risk and consequences
If you don’t believe me go back and watch the Horse advert again after watching the Texting while driving advert and tell me which one stays with you?
Please lets stop wrapping the general public up in cotton wool, the consequences of careless and impatient driving need to be understood, not made humorous, We’re not selling car Insurance, we’re trying to reduce needless deaths.