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Evaluation of Young Driver Cinema Advert - Research Findings

DescriptionThe evaluation had two main elements: a quantitative survey of cinema-goers and a qualitative study of young people's reactions to the advert.
ISBN0 7480 5600 9
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Development Department Research Programme Research Findings No. 25 (1996)
Evaluation of Young Driver Cinema Advert

System Three Scotland

ISBN 0-7480-5600-9Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
Young drivers aged between 17 and 25 feature disproportionately in road accident statistics. In May 1996, the Scottish Road Safety Campaign launched a cinema advert targeting this age group and highlighting the dangers of speeding. System Three was commissioned by The Scottish Office to evaluate the impact of this campaign. The evaluation had two main elements: a quantitative survey of cinema-goers and a qualitative study of young people's reactions to the advert.
Main findings
  • More than 1 in 4 cinema-goers (27%) mentioned the advert spontaneously as one which stood out or made a strong impression on them, with levels of recall rising to 81% when respondents were shown a photo-prompt.
  • Recall was highest among those aged 18 to 21 and lowest among those aged 30 or over.
  • The advert was widely seen to be targeting young people and most respondents linked it to the dangers of speeding or reckless driving.
  • This advert was seen as shocking by the majority of cinema-goers, though few felt it was in bad taste. It prompted many to think about their own driving behaviour and about what it is like to be a passenger in a car being driven at speed.
  • The shock tactics adopted in the advert gained viewers' attention, and it was successful in retaining the interest of its target audience.
  • Many aspects of the advert encouraged identification amongst this group, although the end-line 'Drive like an idiot, die like an idiot' prompted some to disassociate themselves from the behaviour described.
  • The audience felt that, by encouraging young people to consider the consequences of driving too fast and associating this behaviour with negative images, the advert should begin to influence attitudes towards speeding.
  • Respondents thought it unlikely that the advert would result in behavioural change unless supported by other communications and enforcement activities.
Introduction
Young drivers aged between 17 and 25 feature disproportionately in road accident statistics. In May 1996, the Scottish Road Safety Campaign launched a cinema advert targeting this age group and highlighting the dangers of speeding. The advert was designed to appeal to younger drivers and used shock tactics in an attempt to influence driving behaviour. References to youth culture and black humour were used to portray the death of the young driver and his girlfriend passenger. The 45 second screening begins with the narrator (the actor Christopher Eccleston) sitting in the back seat apparently talking to the driver of the car, and making references to the speed at which the car has been driven. A close up shot of the front seat of the car then shows the driver and passenger dead and bloody, whilst the narrator ironically refers to speed 'impressing the girls' and concludes laughingly that the accident has been a 'tragic waste of a decent motor'. The shocking advert ends with the slogan "Drive like an idiot, die like an idiot".
System Three was commissioned by The Scottish Office to evaluate the impact of the campaign. The specific objectives of the evaluation were:
  • to measure the levels of awareness of the advert among the target population;
  • to examine the strength of recall of the advert and its message;
  • to collect information about the perceived relevance and effectiveness of the advert.
Methodology
The evaluation had two main elements: a quantitative survey of cinema-goers and a qualitative study of young people's reactions to the advert. The quantitative survey consisted of face-to-face interviews with 1,002 young people at 6 cinemas in different parts of Scotland. The qualitative research consisted of four group discussions and twenty individual depth interviews. The group discussions were split by age and sex, two were conducted in Glasgow and the other two were conducted in Edinburgh. The individual depth interviews were conducted over 5 locations and were split by sex and socio-economic grouping.
Results
Quantitative findings
Awareness of the young driver advert
Cinema-goers who had arrived in time to see the pre-film programme (who averaged around 60% of total audiences) were asked whether there was any part that particularly stood out or left a strong impression. Just over 1 in 4 respondents (27%) mentioned the Young Driver advert spontaneously at this point and this was usually the first thing mentioned. Those respondents who did not mention the Young Driver advert spontaneously were then shown a photoprompt of a scene from the advert and asked specifically whether they recalled seeing it. Three-quarters of this group recalled the advert when shown the prompt material. In total therefore, 81% of cinema-goers interviewed recalled having seen the advert (27% spontaneously and a further 54% when prompted).
Perceived message of the young driver advert
When asked what they felt the main message of the advert to be, almost 7 in 10 respondents linked it to the dangers of speeding. A further 14% mentioned the dangers of 'driving like an idiot' or reckless driving in general. However, a significant minority (30%) mentioned drink-driving in connection with the advert and smaller numbers linked it to the dangers of joyriding or taking drugs and driving.
Figure 1
Perceived main message of advert
Figure 1 : Perceived main message of advert
Perceived target audience
Three-quarters of those interviewed felt that the advert was aimed at young people. A further 21% mentioned 'boy racers' or young males as the target group for the campaign.
Figure 2
Perceived main target group
Figure 2 Perceived main target group
Reactions to the advert
Respondents were read a number of statements about the advert and asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with each. The advert was seen as shocking by 72% of the sample, but only 16% agreed that the advert was in bad taste. Almost two-thirds of drivers (65%) agreed that it had made them think about their own driving and 45% of all respondents that it made them think about times they had been a passenger.
Perceived effectiveness of the advert
Although 58 % of respondents thought that this advert would either have 'a lot' of effect or 'quite a lot' of effect, a significant minority of 35% thought it would have 'not very much' effect, and a further 5% believed it would have no effect at all. The younger the respondent the more likely he or she was to regard the advert as effective.
Qualitative findings
The purpose of the qualitative research was to explore in more depth, attitudes towards the advert itself and about driving behaviour in general, with a view to making recommendations for future development in road safety campaigns.
Overall impact
A variety of factors within the advert aroused and sustained the viewer's interest, and the overall impact was powerful. This was achieved by the combination of use of a well-known actor; the loud 'rave' music in the background; the language and references to youth culture; and the use of shocking images. The use of sardonic humour particularly at the end of the advert served to maintain a high level of impact.
Identification and relevance
The target audience generally perceived the advert as targeting young people and especially young males. A range of cues signalled that the advert was designed to appeal to the young. Indeed some of the references within the advert would be unintelligible to an older audience. The inclusion of a girl in the car increased the sense of identification and relevance for females in the audience, and both males and females could relate to the experience of being a passenger in a car which was being driven too fast for their peace of mind.
Few of the audience however, identified strongly with the behaviour depicted. Cues to the socio-economic background of the young couple were used by some to distance themselves, while other saw themselves as unlike the 'boy-racers' at which they felt the advert was aimed. The main message encapsulated in the caption 'Drive like an idiot, die like an idiot' was accepted by respondents as an accurate description of the behaviour shown but tended to be projected on to other drivers less experienced and less cautious than themselves.
Effectiveness
The advert was generally successful in making the target audience think about speeding and the consequences of speeding. It succeeded in raising awareness of speeding as an issue in a way which was relevant to the young target audience and stimulated further consideration by the individual of their own driving behaviour and the consequences of speeding. However, in terms of directly influencing attitudes and behaviour, the situation is more complex. Respondents disassociated themselves from the behaviour depicted in the advert, and to some extent this reduces the likely effect on their own attitudes and behaviour. Many felt that the advert should be part of an integrated campaign which also used other forms of media, before attitudes and behaviour began to change.
Driving behaviour
Respondents felt that their own driving behaviour was affected by a range of factors, such as levels of confidence, driving experience and personality. External stimuli such as road conditions, being late for an appointment and the social influence of others can influence the propensity to speed. Internal stimuli such as mood and enjoyment of speeding and a desire to impress peer groups can also be influential factors.
Conclusions and recommendations
By using powerful images which incorporate a range of cues to youth culture, the advert has been successful in communicating the message on the dangers of speeding to the young driver. The majority of cinema-goers were shocked by the advert and were stimulated into thinking about their own driving behaviour. Clearly, the cinema screening of this advert was an effective means of conveying the powerful images and getting the message across to the target group.
It was generally accepted by the target audience however, that the advert needed to be supported by a range of other initiatives, such as further advertising and increased enforcement measures and penalties in order to achieve actual attitudinal and behavioural change. Advertising can prove to be effective in altering attitudes over a period of time, and respondents expressed a desire for this advert to be the first of a series of adverts designed to alter attitudes to speeding. Adverts depicting different situations and different types of young people could be used to target various types of young drivers. An integrated communications approach involving the use of other media forms such as radio, billboards and PR activity could be designed to create a cumulative impact at a cultural level on habitual patterns of driving behaviour.
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