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Frequently asked questions

Prior to 1995, what road safety advertising took place?

The national road safety advertising and enforcement campaign began in its current form in 1995. However, some one-off road safety ads were developed prior to this. What became most different in 1995 was the intensity of the advertising - the television advertisements were regularly on air.

The New Zealand approach uses a blueprint developed from the Victorian experience. What does this blueprint include?

The NZ Transport Agency blueprint sets an expectation of high recall and cut-through for viewing audiences. It prescribes a research-led strategy, from concept development to final production. It uses 'branding' to encourage drivers to buy-in to the road safety message, eg 'Slow down'. It expects to provide support to enforcement and for enforcement to play a key role in reducing road trauma.

Essentially, our blueprint specifies the tone and manner of the communication, which:

  • invites the target group's awareness, ownership and enforcement of the problem

  • presents realistic situations and people that the target audience can identify with

  • uses realistic treatment (nothing false, contrived, over-clever or arty)

  • is factual, using new 'news' to persuade people

  • focuses on the effects on the victims, and their families and communities

  • includes as much emotion as possible – moves people emotionally and rationally

  • is credible, convincing, not apologetic, personable, offers solutions

  • engages or triggers their anxieties/concerns

  • surprises people

  • ensures the message leaves people thinking 'this could happen to me/us'

  • ensures the message leaves people thinking 'I don't want this to happen to someone I know'

  • does not lecture, nor threaten with authority, nor play on statistics

  • places the message as coming from experts, victims and communities, rather than the NZ Police or the NZ Transport Agency.

How are the key priorities of the campaign decided?

The key priorities of the campaign were determined by high and medium priorities identified in Safer Journeys: New Zealand’s road safety strategy 2010–2020 (external link) .

Why don't you educate drivers on the road rules in your advertising, for example, the use of headlights or how to approach an intersection correctly?

Our campaign's main focus is to raise driver awareness of road safety issues and change unsafe driver behaviour. It doesn't aim to educate people on the correct way to drive.

What objectives do you hope to achieve with the campaign?

Each individual campaign has its own objectives. The campaign as a whole links into police enforcement and its effectiveness is determined by a set of intermediate and overall outcome measures. Both enforcement and advertising contribute to these outcome measures:

  • output measures – media space purchased and delivered, eg target audience rating points (TARPs) delivered, website visits, offence notices issues and magazine readership

  • intermediate outcomes – audience recall and relevance, key public attitudes to road safety, eg speed, drink-driving etc

  • behavioural outcomes – reduced speeds, reduced drink-driving etc

  • overall outcomes – reduced road deaths and injuries.

How much money is spent on the advertising campaign each year?

The budget for the campaign is approximately $13 million per year. This funding supports a police strategic enforcement programme of around $300 million.

What methods are used to make the advertisements effective?

We research and test all our ads with the people we're targeting – from the first concept through to the finished product – to ensure our message is getting across.

We use crash data and attitudinal surveys to develop the advertising brief. This brief defines who the ads are for and the issues that need to be addressed so that each ad focuses on what will work for each specific audience. This includes the language that is used.

How do you decide what language to use in your advertising?

When an advertising brief is developed, it defines who the ads are for, which in turn defines what language is used. The vernacular in each advertisement is targeted to its specific audience so they can relate to it, eg our youth alcohol advertisements have used the taglines, 'Be the sober driver and take one for the team', and, 'If your mate's pissed, you're screwed'. These phrases are part of the everyday language that this audience tends to speak.

What process is used to produce a television advertisement?

We commission, research and sign off each advertisement using the following process:

  • An advertising brief is developed using the latest research and crash data.

  • Several concepts are developed from the brief and are then tested with the target audience. This testing will show what concept works best with them.

  • The concept will be tweaked and adjusted as necessary to ensure the audience gets the correct message and tested with them again.

  • The advertisement is produced.

  • The 'draft' advertisement is tested with the audience once it's been filmed to ensure that they still get the correct message.

  • The advertisement will be finalised and go to air.

How do you decide when and where to run your advertisements?

We run all of our advertisements in the places and at the times at which the people we're targeting are most likely to see them.

All television advertisements have an advertisement classification that specifies when they can screen. The Commercials Approval Bureau (CAB) uses over 40 different classifications (external link)  to guide placement. We select billboard sites where the target audience can clearly see the ads, in areas with maximum traffic.

All print advertisements are placed in publications according to the target audience.

Online advertising is placed on sites where the specific audience is likely to be browsing.

What legislation do you have to work within when advertising, eg the Advertising Standards Authority?

We adhere to the guidelines of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (external link) advertising codes of practice. Scheduling our advertisements at appropriate times is important because of the graphic and highly emotive nature of many of our advertisements. This is especially important where children are concerned. The Commercials Approvals Bureau has the task of classifying road safety advertisements and recommending appropriate screening times.

How do you measure the success of your campaigns and over what timeframe?

We measure the success of our campaigns by changes in the attitudes and behaviours of the people we’re targeting. The campaigns also contribute to a reduction in crashes and injuries. We do this by using surveys and by monitoring crash statistics.

The latest survey of public attitudes (external link) shows that 35% of New Zealanders thought that our advertising should increase and 57% thought it should remain at current levels.

Does advertising reduce the number of crashes on our roads?

The advertising and enforcement campaign links road safety advertising to police enforcement. While an advertising campaign can affect public awareness and attitudes and influence behaviour change, advertising alone does not result in reduced crashes, deaths or serious injuries – it has never claimed to. Crash reductions are the result of many factors including levels of enforcement, safer vehicles, safer roads, increased public awareness and safer driving behaviour.  Accordingly our campaign supports enforcement activities to help contribute to an overall reduction in crashes, deaths and serious injuries.

How do you know if an advertisement works?

Our advertising is thoroughly tested with the target audience before it is produced and is then constantly tracked and monitored to ensure that it’s achieving its objectives. 

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