ditto is…learning from ‘Mistakes’Jan 13, 2014
As a copywriter, I strive to make my work as engaging as possible, to create moments where the target audience can’t help but read, listen or watch to what I’ve written. As a result, I take notice when my own attention is grabbed that completely. While browsing the internet recently I came across this advert promoting safer driving from the New Zealand Transport Authority.
The video is titled ‘Mistakes’, and it is just one in a long line of adverts like it. As a card-carrying member of Gen-Y, I find it hard to remember a time when road safety adverts haven’t been a part of television advertising. First the enemy was anyone who refused to wear a seatbelt, then it was the drunk drivers. More recently the campaigns have focussed on those who chose to take drugs before getting behind the wheel. Speeding and poor judgement at junctions, the errors made by the drivers in the advert, have both received their own awareness campaigns at one time or another.
What I find so compelling about this video is that it seems to break from the previous norm of road safety adverts: that there is always a bad guy. Whether it’s the speeding driver who mows down a girl at a zebra crossing, or the guy who refuses to hand over his keys even after drinking more than he should, these adverts have traditionally served as cautionary tales. “Don’t be the one to blame”. However, by choosing to focus in on the regret and the grief felt by each driver in the moments preceding the collision, the video removes the illusion of such a black and white interpretation.
How many of us have edged over the limit because we’re running late? How many have sworn angrily at the ‘bloody idiot’ who nearly took our bonnet off, all the while silently aware that we’ve stuck our nose out too far into oncoming traffic. The conversation that takes place between the drivers makes it clear that neither one is the bad guy, neither one is a monster. As such, we’re able to identify with both drivers. What the creators of this video have managed to do is to put the audience in the shoes of the characters through a compelling idea and powerful scriptwriting (and acting!).
As a driver, this video reminded me that driving is not something to be taken lightly, and to always be aware of my fellow road users. As a copywriter, the advert inspired and motivated me to keep writing copy that engages and creates just as much impact as this video had on me.