In Romania, the police started several awareness raising campaigns, in the attempt to cut down the number of traffic accident victims. The main causes of traffic accidents are jaywalking, running stop signs, speeding and drunk driving.
The European Union wants to cut down the number of traffic accident victims by 50% by 2020 in all 27-member countries. The main causes of traffic accidents are jaywalking, running stop signs, speeding and drunk driving. In Romania, the police started several awareness raising campaigns under the slogan “Choose Life”. The Romanian police and the Publicis advertising agency have come up with an original way of conveying their message to drivers. They used the image of three of the most infamous dictators to convey the message that if a driver hits a pedestrian, most likely the latter will be an innocent victim.
Silviu Nedelschi, creative director with the agency, told us what they did: “We took the images of three of the most notorious dictators in history, Stalin, Hitler and Saddam, and projected them on a windshield, as if they had been hit. The idea was that this will never happen to you; when you hit someone, no matter how much you wish they had been evil, you will usually hit an innocent person, a good person. It is a different type of message that goes straight to the soul. If you drive recklessly, you will hit someone who is not the worst person in the world.”
The images of dictators stuck to windshields have spread all across the world in a couple of days. What followed was an ad shot outside a very popular club in Bucharest on a Saturday night. A group of traditional mourners, women who weep for the dead at village funerals, wait for the people coming out of the club and accompany them to their cars. They sing funeral dirges as they would in a real funeral cortege. The words sound as something they would sing for someone who died while drunk driving.
In addition to the dirge, the mourners also hang on the car mirror an embroidered tea towel, such as people traditionally do in Romania when going to a funeral. Officer Cristian Andries from the Traffic Police General Inspectorate told us that this campaign, launched right before the 2012 summer season, was quite successful on the Internet.
Cristian Andries: “We are trying to persuade everyone on the roads to act responsibly, and to drive carefully. A very large number of traffic accidents are caused by drunk driving, and we are trying to reduce the number of these incidents, which is why we thought of this campaign. We launched it right before May 1st, when a lot of youth were going to the beach, precisely to make them think of the basic idea: don’t drive after drinking. However, the campaign did not address only the youth, but all drivers. Some really liked the idea, and the people who saw our movie remembered the message.”
Senior copywriter Andrei Daniliuc stressed that this way of conveying the “don’t drink and drive” message was also an attempt to break away from the usual way in which the police in Romania conveys public messages.
Andrei Daniliuc: “People have gotten used to the way in which the police usually sends them messages: don’t drink, don’t beat your wife, don’t do this, don’t do the other thing. It’s like a parent saying you’ll get in trouble for doing whatever. We thought that if we changed the angle, the police would have a better image, people would say ‘look, they joined the modern world, they don’t just issue interdictions’. I think it caught on because of the unconventional way in which things were told. Plus, it’s something deeply Romanian, I’ve never heard of another country where they hire professionals to mourn at funeral. We’ve had this since forever, and I think this is why it caught on. We engage in the dialogue the very moment when they must decide whether they want to get behind the wheel, go with a friend or call a cab. We had two ways of conveying our message. The first was the mourners. And, if that didn’t work, they got to their car and saw the towel hanging on the mirror, that was the other warning. But the mourners were clearly the ones with the greatest impact.”
Another ad that spread like wildfire over the web was a collage of short videos showing stray dogs crossing the street at the pedestrian crossing. The slogan was simple: if they can do it, you can, too. Officer Cristian Andries from the police says that they were talking about another major cause of traffic accidents.
Cristian Andries: “Jaywalking has been one of the main causes of traffic accidents in Romania. This and speeding have always been the top two causes of accidents. This is an original campaign, but we hope that the reaction of the people seeing this will be positive, and they will get the underlying message: they should cross the street at the crossing.”
Last year, Romania had around 9,300 traffic accidents that left victims, and the police hopes to be able to reduce this number in the future.