Road Safety: Bleeding Billboard
Billboards are a common form of advertisement and are designed to catch your attention and create an impression very quickly. Billboards aim to leave the consumer thinking about the advert, even seeing it, so the adverts need to be quickly readable, eye-catching and simple. Unlike TV adverts, billboards are exposed 24 hours a day, which can create brand awareness and strong name recognition.
In Papakura, New Zealand, a billboard was created over the Easter holidays to promote a safe driving campaign. In previous years a large number of fatal accidents had occurred, especially in rainy driving conditions. The billboard featured the message ‘Rain changes everything. Please drive to the conditions’.
(Please note I do not own/nor claim to own these images)
However, this advert is very different to your typical billboard. The board features a young boy’s face and when it rains blood comes out from the child’s face. The campaign used the shock and fear factor to get the message across to drive safely and the use of a child creates maximum impact. Dahl, Frakenberger & Manchanda (2003) found that an advert that uses shocking content will increase attention, have a greater impact on memory and overall promote positive behaviour.
The location of the billboard, allowed the campaign to target the specific, intended audience and the message was frequently and continuously being delivered. So, was the billboard effective? Since it was created, there has been a 0% death rate in Papakura during the Easter holidays. Thornton, Rossiter & White (2000) found that the most effective anti-speeding adverts were ones that used a high level of fear and this resulted in more people driving under the speed limit.
Overall, billboards can be an extremely effective method of portraying a message and although the ‘bleeding billboard’ could be seen as disturbing and upsetting, it helped saved people’s lives.
Dahl, D.W., Frakenberger, K.D., & Manchanda, R.V. (2003). Does it pay to shock? Reactions to shocking and nonshocking advertising content among university students. Journal of Advertising Research, 43(3), 268-280.
Thornton, J., Rossiter, J., & White, L. (2000). The persuasive effectiveness of varying levels of fear appeals: An anti-speeding advertising experiment. The Australasian Marketing Journal, 1278-1283.