Media: Strategy Analysis - Loss of licence shocks, not loss of life shocks

Client: Transport for London
Brief: Reduce the number of deaths and injuries on London's roads by 40
per cent by 2010
Target audience: 17- to 25-year-old men in London

Media: Mediaedge:cia
Creative: M&C Saatchi
Events and online: Chemistry


Over the past three years, 18,000 people were killed or seriously injured on London's roads, with speed being the biggest single contributory factor.

In the past, speeding campaigns had used shock tactics about safety to effect change. They had been memorable, but they did not seem to be having the desired effect against a core group of persistent offenders. Research told us young men were twice as likely as women to commit a minor speeding offence and four times more likely to commit a serious one.

The challenge for Mediaedge:cia, M&C Saatchi and Chemistry was to get to the heart of what was important to these people and understand what makes them speed.

Focus groups revealed two critical insights. The first was that, unlike other audience groups, messages about loss of life were not particularly persuasive to young men. After all, they'd live forever, wouldn't they? What motivates them is the loss of freedom associated with losing a licence.

The second was that losing yourself momentarily, whether through anger, excitement or the desire to show off, is the biggest contributor to speeding.

By identifying moments of heightened passion, it would be possible to communicate what was at stake if they were caught speeding. This was summed up in the connection idea - "A rush of blood", the heightened state when emotionally charged. The audience would only be talked to in these moments.


The campaign worked on two levels: moments when they were excited about their car, and moments when they were about to speed.

First, their pride and joy - their car. We toured a souped-up Vauxhall around shopping centres. On closer inspection, people saw the "for sale" sign - its driver could no longer afford the insurance due to speeding.

- Online: The first online viral "anti-game" was created, which appeared to be a driving game people would love to play. Drivers soon realised how fruitless it was when they couldn't start because they'd been speeding - and lost their licence.

- Inserts: Inserts were placed inside Max Power and Fast Car, enticing "boy racers" to tear down a dotted line, only to reveal they had accidentally torn up their licences.

- Outdoor: Open road posters were used outside of Zone 3 and selected sites at football stadiums, sports grounds and out-of-town pubs were used to temper those moments when passions ran high.

- Radio: The posters combined with a late-night off-peak radio campaign, which could communicate the message to them when the roads were clear and the music was pumping.


On a relatively small budget, the campaign achieved spontaneous awareness of 63 per cent, with 43 per cent of the core audience agreeing that the campaign had made them think twice about speeding.

More importantly, over the campaign period, there was a 29 per cent reduction in the number of speeding tickets issued, compared with the same period for the previous year.

THE VERDICT - Paul O'Neill managing partner, Michaelides & Bednash

It's 1987, late on a week night and my car is ready. I fire her up - what a note, what a roar. Curtains twitch. Remember those days when you first got your licence and you just went out and drove about? That was me, 20 years ago, with too much gel in my hair and too much Italian knitwear on my mind.

Today, Transport for London's team are trying to tackle exactly the sort of idiot driver I was: the teenager who thinks death is for other people.

My immediate judgment is the agencies have a neat strategy. They have identified the scariest prospect for young lads: emasculation by "wheel-less-ness". Killing another human being doesn't cut it like the prospect of losing your licence. The rationale of reaching these twentysomething males at the "rush of blood " moment is spot on.

Back to the knitwear. It's pushed up to my elbows; befagged right arm hangs out of the window. Music is loud: the drum/bass intro of Blue Monday fills my sound machine, cocooning me from the real world. As I turn into Court Lane in Dulwich, parked cars on either side, I notice a BMW in the distance. But I'm intoxicated by the Moog synth riff blasting out of my car stereo building to Bernard Sumner's deadpan entrance: Howww does it feel? It feels fucking great.

Suddenly, the other car is very near and driving straight at me. His motor may trump my Renault 5, but he's picked the wrong guy to play chicken with. I was doing around 50; he was moving faster. The joust proceeded at full force. A nano-second before our cars collide, I make an eye-watering swerve, but not enough to miss scything his wing mirror with mine. He keeps moving. I stop. The shame. Everything seems intact, except most of the glass from my shattered mirror is embedded in my right arm. A long night in A&E ensues.

Knowing what I know about my younger self, I'd ban all young men from the roads. But given that they're here to stay, controlling them comes down to having insight into their mindset. This campaign gets right to what scares young men.

In terms of media execution, use of posters on arterial roads, at football grounds and out-of-town pubs is sound. Radio is particularly smart: car music fuels driving speed. The game and the Max Power insert is a nice touch. There's lots of scope here to do more good work, and I hope for all our sakes TfL supply the funds to do it justice.

Score: 4 out of 5.