- Now do I have your attention? (Image courtesy StreetSmart)
We've been waiting more than two months for an excuse to run this fantastically horrifying image, and now we finally have it.
The image first popped up back in the spring, when it ran on posters as part of the Washington Council of Government (COG) StreetSmart campaign for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. The same campaign had produced a similarly hair-raising poster back in 2008. But that initial image, which caught quite a bit of attention, merely depicted a young man getting plowed by a sedan; the most recent iteration raised the stakes by including a wailing child in a stroller staring directly at the viewer. (Also, the iPod flying out of the bag was a nice modern touch.)
At Wednesday's COG transportation board meeting, program director Michael Farrell took the floor to present the results of their most recent media campaigns. COG had hired a consultant to perform before-and-after interviews of motorists to determine how effective its various public-service announcements had been. Not surprisingly, the image above -- known internally as "woman hit by car" -- was extremely effective.
"A lot of people remembered the woman being hit by the car," Farrell tells us. It's what the marketing folk call "recall" power. According to a report produced on the campaign, "the graphic imagery had the largest increase in awareness and is recalled more often."
The study of the larger campaign looked at six different advertisements -- all of them with street safety messages, like the need to obey traffic signals, cross after the bus has left the corner, etc. -- and found that "woman hit by car" vastly outperformed its more, um, pedestrian counterparts. Among their target demographic of males age 18 to 34, nearly a third said the stroller ad stayed with them the most.
Public-service announcements like these are disturbing, and that's obviously the goal. Traffic safety is a pretty mundane issue, until you're mowed down by a couple of tons of steel. StreetSmart, of course, isn't the only safety group to take this approach. Let's not forget that hugely provocative PSA about texting-while-driving that came out of the UK not long ago. And in case you did forget it, here it is again, for your viewing displeasure.