CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Latins need harder-hitting ads

Road deaths in Europe are high. John Tylee examines its road safety advertising

Road deaths in Europe are high. John Tylee examines its road safety


Summer is coming and traffic cops all over Europe are bracing themselves

for another season of carnage on the continent’s roads.

Spaniards will treat speed limits with contempt, 97 out of every 100

Italian drivers will flaunt the country’s seatbelt laws and the French

will behave like kamikazees come August when they head for their holiday


While Britain’s blend of enforcement and road safety advertising has

made its roads among the safest in western Europe, the statistics

elsewhere are grim. In the UK, the number of road deaths per 100,000

people was 6.8 in 1993. Compare that with Italy (13), Spain (16) and

France (17).

Now, with a new heart-breaking commercial from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

on air in Britain, there is a growing recognition in southern Europe

that this country’s hard-edged approach to road safety advertising needs

to be followed.

Reducing the annual slaughter is a gigantic problem and one which nobody

believes advertising alone can solve. Driving habits born of deeply

entrenched cultures will take years to change and traffic laws more

firmly applied. It may be a stereotype, but Latin motorists are more

prone to put their foot down and adopt a more cavalier attitude to the

law than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts.

And while Italian newspapers have reported on the AMV campaign, the

chances of anything similar running on Italian TV are almost zero,

claims Paolo Ettorre, chief executive of Saatchi and Saatchi in Rome.

‘We’re facing very high restrictions on creative freedom,’ he says.

The Italian Government spent almost pounds 3 million on road safety

advertising last year, much of it directed at young male drivers who

tank up their cars and themselves on Saturday nights. Was the

advertising any good? ‘I can’t even remember it,’ Ettorre confesses.

In Spain, between pounds 10 million and pounds 15 million supports road

safety campaigns each year, but the effect is negated by the failure to

enforce speed limits. ‘We can’t afford to be subtle any more,’ Stanley

Bendelac, chairman of Delvico Bates in Madrid, warns.

Meanwhile, France’s laissez-faire approach to creativity in TV ads has

not translated into a hard-hitting road safety campaign.

‘We’ve never dared do in France what the UK has done,’ Jacques Bille,

chairman of the European Advertising Tripartite and a former head of

France’s equivalent of the Central Office of Information, says. ‘We’ve

always tried to explain rather than frighten. But the fact is that

speeding in France is regarded as a game.’

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus