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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?

The advertising programme focuses on high and medium priorities identified in the Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020, and it aims to influence and encourage the correct behaviours on our roads. The objective isn’t 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 works best in conjunction with police enforcement and its effectiveness is determined by a set of intermediate and overall outcome measures. Enforcement, advertising and other interventions all contribute to these outcome measures:

  • output measures – media space purchased and delivered, e.g. target audience rating points (TARPs) delivered, website visits, offence notices issues and magazine readership
  • intermediate outcomes – audience relevance and message take-out, key public attitudes to road safety, e.g. 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–$14 million per year. This funding supports a police strategic enforcement programme of around $300 million per year.

What methods are used to make the advertisements effective?

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

We use crash data, attitudinal surveys and qualitative research to develop each advertising brief. This brief defines the issue being addressed, the objective for the campaign and the specific target audience so that each campaign focuses on what will work for each specific audience.

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

When an advertising brief is developed, it clearly outlines who the advertising campaign is targeting, which in turn defines what language is used. The vernacular in each advertisement is targeted to its specific audience so it is relevant to them, e.g. 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.

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

We run all of our advertisements in the places and at the times our target audience are most likely to see them. For example:

  • 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 appropriate to reach 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 through ongoing tracking and evaluation of each of the campaigns. This evaluation shows us how effective the ads are with the target audience – we measure things such as message take-out and relevance etc, to ensure the advertising is achieving its objectives.

The advertising aims to influence and encourage the correct behaviours on our roads of the people we’re targeting, and ultimately works to contribute to a reduction in crashes, deaths and serious injuries. However advertising alone is unlikely to affect these reductions – the programme works in conjunction with other interventions, parts of the Transport Agency business and the sector to influence road user behaviour and affect change.

Does advertising reduce the number of crashes on our roads?

The overall advertising programme is primarily in place to support and justify 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. Crash reductions are the result of many factors including a combination of engineering, enforcement, legislation, advertising, education and community interventions.  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.

What do road crashes cost NZ every year?

Estimates of the total cost of road deaths to New Zealand society is around $3.8 billion each year. This figure is reached by measuring the costs of all damages resulting from road crashes(external link).

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