Visually Branding Seat Belts for Safety

A brilliant new driving safety campaign out of New Zealand badges injuries to stress the importance of wearing seatbelts. Every year, ninety Kiwis die because they weren’t wearing theirs during a crash, but a new campaign from Clemenger BBDO sets out to address that for their client, the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Because younger men are less likely to use one, the agency partnered with VICE to find younger New Zealanders whose lives were saved because they were wearing their seat belt during a crash. Hundreds of survivors responded and ultimately, the agency chose ten for their campaign.

To visually brand the idea, the agency brought in the FX makeup team PROFX to recreate each victim’s crash injuries. Using post-crash photographs, they recreated the physical imprint of the belts on the survivors for a powerful print and outdoor campaign. The final portraits feature survivors wearing their seatbelt imprints with palpable appreciation.

The survivor pictured above is Liam, whose car was T-boned by a truck. On the Belted Survivors website, we learn he woke up from a coma just in time to witness the birth of his daughter. Story details like this add a powerfully human and visceral urgency to the work’s imagery.

The NZ Transport’s message aims to change the perception that buckling your seatbelt is only for kids or old people. With powerful visuals like these, they should be very successful at achieving their goal. This is powerful work, beautifully and memorably done.

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Doing Social Media 9-5 Means You’re Doing It Wrong

Back in the 80’s, I worked with a really smart research guy (this was waaaay pre-planning) named Jim Crimmins.  Jim biked to work not because he was green (this was waaaay pre-green) but because it made sense to him.  He was a soft spoken presenter of deeply-resonant ideas, one of which was the importance of aperture, which simply means finding the right place and time to maximize your message’s persuasiveness.

In those days, aperture referred to the right place and time for television, radio, print or outdoor (this was waaaay pre-internet…are you sensing a theme here?).  It was an important thought then, but today’s hyper-connected, social media/web 2.0 times magnify aperture’s importance ten fold.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson, MinneapolisAccording to a recent statistical analysis by Buddy Media, a leading supplier of social marketing software for clients and agencies, 89% of retail brand posts launch between 8 AM and 7 PM Eastern Time.  That makes sense because those are the work hours of the corporate people writing the posts.

Except it doesn’t make sense, because that’s when subscribers and consumers receiving those posts are busiest.

According to the study, brands reach people more successfully when they launch their messages in more favorable apertures.  For the Facebook crowd, engagement with retail brands rises 20% on posts between 8 PM and 7 AM.

In fact, it’s not just time of day but day of the week that drives engagement.  Buddy Media’s data reveals Facebook user engagement varies over the course of a week, peaking on Wednesdays and Sundays.  In comparison, Friday is the worst day for consumer engagement.  Retailer fans engage most with posts outside of traditional workdays.

All of which means it might be time to rethink our posting schedules and perhaps even invest in publishing tools and software, which not surprisingly, Buddy Media offers.  You can download their statistical report and check their methodology here.  Self-interest notwithstanding, it’s a pretty compelling argument for adjusting when we try to engage consumers online.

Other quick highlights of the report?  Facebook engagement drops with the frequency of posts during the day–less than three seems ideal for generating Likes and comments.  And keep them short: lengthy posts kill engagement. Only 5% of retail brand Wall Posts are less than forty characters, but those receive 86% higher engagement.  And in a sucker punch to the hopes of every creative in marketing, posts containing “$ off” and “coupon” pull a 55% higher user engagement rate and simpler posts work better than more interesting and involved ones featuring links to video and photos.  Apparently when you are interrupting someone’s social experience, they are hopelessly self interested and simple-minded.

If I learned anything from Jim, it’s that aperture matters.  Which means this blog post is waaaaay too long.  Oh, and perhaps not surprisingly, Jim now teaches at Northwestern University.  Some folks can’t stop learning. And teaching.  For that, thank you Mr. Chips.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Could We Please Stop the Self-Loathing? Ads Work.

Picture 2This week’s cover headline on Advertising Age reads “Cannes swept by PR, integrated, internet winners” with the subhead “Tally suggests ad age is over–or, at least, it’s evolved to higher plain.”  Setting aside my issue with the subhead’s overuse of commas, this still reads like a textbook example of a classic journalistic mistake: burying your lead.

The headline should emphasize that advertising is “evolving to a higher plain,” instead of continuing to forward the whiny, helpless hand-wringing that’s become endemic to our industry (“it’s over–everything we’ve ever known is now wrong!”).  Yes, social networks are a critical platform that our industry needs to address.  Yes, the media landscape has changed radically.  And yes–most critically from my perspective–advertising alone is not enough anymore.

But here’s the thing: it never was.  For advertising to really work, it has always needed a great product or service, attractive design, and engaging street and retail programs.  But somehow, the simple fact that the advertising environment has become exponentially more complicated over this past decade has led some people–including apparently, the editors of Ad Age–to subjectively dismiss the foundation of our industry: generating creative messaging in paid media.  And that fries my bacon, that salts my shorts, that makes me pigbiting mad…

Because here’s a newsflash: advertising works.

Please read that sentence again.  Better still, let’s read it aloud together, shall we?  Advertising works.

Television?  Still works.  In fact, that audience is bigger than ever.  Radio?  Still works: we may court disaster by texting in our cars but all that commuting time is still filled by AM/FM radio.  And print?  It may be changing radically, but answer this question: would you rather have your name mentioned in the online version of the New York Times or the actual paper?

It’s time our industry corrects itself from this odd fever of self-loathing.  Because the facts don’t support all the wailing and gnashing of teeth.  In the June 22 issue of Adweek, Mark Dolliver wrote a story unfortunately relegated to a short item on the Adweek Media page.  In it, he cites an Adweek Media/Harris Poll recently fielded that concludes that yes, indeed, people are still swayed by ads.

Is advertising alone enough?  Of course not.

The real innovation our industry needs is the strategic melding of creative messages distributed through a coordination of both paid and earned media.

It’s not one.  It’s not the other.  It’s both.

by Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79