Road safety messages often focus on drivers but a new campaign from QUT advertising students takes a different tack by alerting pedestrians and cyclists to the dangers of distraction.
Their ‘Where’s your sense?’ campaign has just gone live across Brisbane and targets 18-25-year-olds considered vulnerable road users because of a tendency to spend more time looking at their phones than potential traffic hazards.
Its creators - students Kate Walters, Macey Robinson-Stewart, Paulus Pearce, and Mea Clifford - also raised their own awareness of the hypnotic powers of digital devices.
The concept was created for Re:act, a Hard Edge program that challenges university students to raise awareness of road safety issues and drive behaviour change. The campaign is now featured on digital billboards and signs provided for free by leading Out of Home company oOh!media in highly visible locations including the northern end of Story Bridge, shopping centres and cafes.
Professor Gayle Kerr from the QUT Business School said the brief was to highlight the sometimes deadly consequences of phone distraction and 65 second and third year students participated.
“For QUT, it was a chance to add value to a copywriting unit. Instead of just understanding a client problem, the advertising students had to conduct research and think about the problems they faced every time they sat in front of the steering wheel,” Professor Kerr said.
“They also had to talk to each other about it, and perhaps remove some of the stigmas from discussing road safety issues. Distraction is a major challenge for all young road users, including drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
“By exploring the problem of driving distracted in a logical, strategic and creative way, students not just created a great advertising idea, but hopefully, a whole new strategy for their own road safety.”
The Re:act program is now in its fifth year, and this is the first time it has been staged in Brisbane. Partners included Telstra, IAG, Rio Tinto, Transurban, QUT’s CARRS-Q and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, representatives of which joined Re:act founder Andrew Hardwick in providing guidance to the students before later judging their efforts.
‘Where’s your sense?’ was chosen from 12 pitches and aims to ‘jolt’ distracted pedestrians and cyclists back to the real world; to make them more present in their surroundings.
Paulus Pearce said he found the exercise resonated with him on a person level.
“We found many campaigns in the past focused on the Stop. Look. Listen. Think. rule. A lot of people do stop, they do look but don’t listen because they have earphones in and, for the target audience of 18-25 year-olds, one in three are on their smartphone all the time, even when they’re walking.
“That’s there we came up with our concept, ‘Where’s your sense?’ It’s based on the sense of being impaired when you’re on their smartphone or wearing earphones.
“For me personally I love to listen to music, and that can be quite distracting. The research backed up what I’d already been feeling, that I am in my own bubble when I’m listening to music and that can potentially be dangerous, so Re:act raised my own personal awareness too.”
The ‘Where’s your sense?’ billboards feature mobile phone-focused pedestrians and cyclists in dangerous situations, such as a cyclist oblivious to the multiple lanes of traffic he is crossing.
For student Macey Robinson-Stewart, it was an opportunity to get a head start on her career with such a high-profile campaign.
“Working with Re:act and oOh!media has been such a surreal experience and an amazing opportunity that I can't wait to add to my portfolio and CV,” she said.
“It's crazy to think that real people will be driving past our billboard every day.”
Re:act CEO Andrew Hardwick said students’ concepts for Brisbane 2020 showed fantastic in-depth research and insights to inform their campaigns.
“Feedback from our partners also reinforced the importance of Re:act’s ability to give students a ‘real world’ experience, and to increase road safety awareness among a group of road users over-represented in road trauma but hard to reach and engage with road safety messages,” he said.
Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, email@example.com
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