Advertising safety

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SafetyAtWorkBlog has received some terrific comments on the various marketing strategies for addressing the safety of young people at work and in their private (public) lives.

A colleague of mine in Western Australia remains sceptical of the type of imagery employed but below are two other comments:

”   thanks for your posting on the alcohol campaign, you are quite correct – these are the kinds of advertisements that connect with the younger set – they have grown up in a world of gore (video games, movies, TV shows that show more and more). Older people don’t understand this – just a generation gap thing.”

“I think it is an excellent way to reach our youth. If it only saves one teenager from a life of over-drinking or saves one innocent life on a highway, it has met the purpose.”

As with many safety campaigns, the measurements of success are often difficult to find.  OHS regulators point to declining fatality and injury figures but these, sometimes, don’t stand up to scrutiny.  With awareness campaigns of this type, performance indicators are crucial, and should be reported publicly.

Branding strategies are okay but their aims are limited and raising one’s awareness of something does not, in itself, change behaviour.  Awareness needs an extra spur for action to occur.  That is why I look forward to the next stages of these campaigns.   Let’s hope they build on their good work rather than tweaking a failing strategy.

Marketing to teenagers and youth

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SafetyAtWorkBlog has mentioned several campaigns recently focusing on promoting safety to young people through graphic ads in Australia and Canada, and enticing websites.  The Queensland Government launched a promotional campaign to the same demographics this week but this one focuses on excessive, or binge, drinking. drink-counts This is timely leading into the Christmas season and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere and it should be successful in its first stage of cinema advertising and social marketing.   The campaign has a similar advertising structure to the graphic OHS ads but depicting a young person undertaking an activity and suddenly switching to an unexpected consequence. A spokesperson for the Every Dr1nk Counts campaign in Queensland’s Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the videos are initially shown only in cinemas on targeted movie sessions as the viewer is unable to avoid the 45 second images as easily as they can a television ad.  Also, cinema ads will be seen by the target audience in a group of their peers which will encourage discussion on the issues raised. The ads are confronting but are well made and subversive in getting one’s attention. Treasurer and Liquor Licensing minister Andrew Fraser said that

“This advertisement highlights the fatal consequences of excessive drinking in the hope that young adults will take notice and make more responsible choices for their futures.”

Minister Fraser also said

“our focus group research also revealed that many young people don’t realise that one stubby or one alco-pop is usually more than one drink. We are not asking young people to stop drinking, we are just asking them to recognise that there are worse consequences than a hangover.”

The correlation to youth marketing is clearly evident but excessive drinking and the associated culture of alcohol consumption is a problem that many workplaces are facing also.  It is common in some industries to have a worker be unfit for work after a heavy night and for alcohol and drug policies to be introduced and enforced.  There are bound to be some OHS Managers and workplaces who will see the benefit of obtaining some of the Every Dr1nk Counts resources in an workplace context.

Young Worker Safety – Part 3

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Several colleagues have pointed to a young worker safety website that was established in Canada several years ago, http://www.notworthit.ca/ .   The site, part of the WCB’s Young Worker campaign, won an award from American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds in their annual Communications Awards in 2007.

There are remarkable similarities to The Pain Factory, even to the point of encoruaging young workers to tell their own stories.  The similarity is, perhaps, justified when considering the safety message is aimed at the same demographics, however it shows that originality is rare in occupational health and safety promotions.  Certainly the use of internet videos is a marked difference between the sites but the success of NotWorthIt should be remembered if The Pain Factory is also put forward for advertising or communications awards.

WorkSafe CEO, John Merrit is a strong advocate of his organisation’s young worker campaign.

Young Worker Safety – Part 2

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A Canadian OHS colleague has drawn attention to a younger worker safety site at http://www.youngworker.ca/en/flash/yw_2008.aspx.  This is also a very good site and the humour is appreciated.

Another colleague has said that the WorkSafe Victoria site captivated his teenagers for 30 minutes.

The trick in commenting on any of these websites is that they are only one part, usually, of a larger safety campaign.   Blogs don’t allow for a full assessment of the campaign unless the blogger fits the campaign’s demographics and is fed all the campaign stats, data and marketing justifications directly from the regulator.

With this understanding, comments from readers of SafetyAtWorkBlog are greatly appreciated.

Young Worker Safety – “The Pain Factory”

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At a recent safety conference in Australia, many presenters used videos downloaded from the internet, either to educate the audience or to titillate.  The internet abounds with videos of people doing stupid things or injuring themselves.

I am not beyond laughing at a man being hit in the testicles.  Indeed most “family” movies currently have a bang in the testicles, a fart gag or a pooh joke. 

WorkSafe Victoria has made a valiant effort to link stupid internet videos with a message about workplace safety.  Recently the authority produced a website “The Pain Factory“.  This site has a collection of internet videos that show people being hurt.  Whether the injuries are severe and required hospitalisation is unclear.

Viewers are encouraged to watch a number of  videos to accrue “points” from which special locked videos are available.  These videos depict another bang in the scrotum, a BMX rider smashing his face and a skateboard rider being run over by an SUV.

I don’t like the approach, the language is sometimes dismissive of injuries and the issue of pain is uncomfortable but this site is not meant for me and it may appeal to those under 20 years.  I kept remembering the trade union comments about the recent graphic ads and I wondered if, from the Pain Factory, young workers will ask their employers for help or feel ashamed of their own stupidity and not report an injury.  There is little indication of the support systems and services that are available to workers.

However, WorkSafe is trying something new, different and using Web 2.0.  It’s a step in the right technological direction but I suspect the safety conservatives may complain (if they find the site – it’s not linked through the WorkSafe website, however this may be on purpose)