Do shock safety ads work?
If you have a teenager about to get their licence make them sit down in front of the computer and watch this UK public service advertisement.
Then ask them if the message sank in. I have a theory about shock ads: that the more graphic the less effective. The more extreme the outcome, the harder it is to relate to the scenario = “that would never happen to me.”
But this four minutes of chilling horror might just be the exception.
This is not an ice addict attacking his mother, picking at imaginary bugs under her skin or throwing a garbage bin through a window in the emergency room. How many teenagers can see themselves ending up like this?
It’s not a smoker with a gangrenous foot or mouth cancer, which is so far beyond what any smoker can ever see happening to them they can console themselves by switching off and thinking “that doesn’t apply to me.”
It is the unimaginable consequences of a momentary lapse of judgment by a teenager just like the ones you know. And let’s face it, unless you’re law-abiding in the extreme, if you own a car and a mobile phone you’ve probably snuck a glance at the screen once or twice when you shouldn’t have.
Shock safety ads have become one of the major tools in the authorities kit bag to tackle public health issues, driver safety and pretty much anything preventable.
The Victorian TAC has made an art form of scaring the living daylights out of young drivers, and quite often get criticised for going over the top.
And in a time when some video games and movies are more gory than anything the road safety campaigners can come up with there’s a strong argument for the impact of peer pressure, rather than shock value.
Just look at the awareness cut through of this brilliant campaign from the NSW RTA.
The most famous and memorable shock ad in Australian history is undoubtedly the 1987 Grim Reaper campaign unleashed on the Australian public at the height of the AIDS epidemic. No blood, no hospitals, no family left behind - just pure terror.
It’s widely credited with playing a major part in a concerted effort across a range of health authorities, which stopped the reach of AIDS in Australia mirroring the dire experience in other similar countries.
But I highly doubt an ad like that would have the same impact in similar circumstances in 2009. Maybe we’re harder to shock than we were 22 years ago.
Sometimes, however, we can still be moved by a graphic image. Again, show the UK text-driving ad to anyone you know between 16 and 25 - it could be the one that proves my theory wrong.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…