Case Study: New York City Department of Transportation
Every 90 seconds, a drunk driver injures someone—him- or herself, his or her passengers, or pedestrians. In an effort to encourage New Yorkers to think twice before they drink and drive, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) partnered with Burson-Marsteller to create a new, integrated marketing campaign to discourage drinking and driving among young adults, primarily targeting men ages 21-34. Objectives included highlighting the consequences and dangers of drinking and driving, communicating the idea that a given individual has the ability to make a safe or unsafe decision and to motivate individuals to think twice before getting into a car to drive after drinking. It was important to reach individuals in all five boroughs, since more driving takes place by residents in the outer NYC boroughs.
Our strategy was to communicate that there are two options - a safe option and an unsafe option - when drinking, and highlight the consequences of each to motivate individuals to think twice about their decisions. Reaching individuals at the decision-making moment was imperative in order to accomplish this goal and begin to alter perceptions.
Research revealed that the message that clearly resonated was the power of “choices.” This concept not only effectively communicated the potential risks of drinking and driving, but participants also had the perspective of drunk driving as “not worth the risk.” Still photo creative and video content were used to tell the story of an individual after a night out of drinking and pose the question “where to?” showing that the protagonist always has a choice.
Video content was placed in various owned and paid vehicles including digital urban panels which ran above subway stations in Manhattan and in Brooklyn, Taxi TV and the Gas Station TV Network, and posted on YouTube and NYC DOT’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A :30 second version ran in-cinema and on Taxi TV. Additional tactics effectively reached men aged 21-34 including a campaign kick-off event and full season arena sponsorship at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, professional sports sponsorships, including the NY nets, NY Yankees and NY Mets and custom coasters were created and placed in bars. The campaign was also adapted into Spanish and the artwork was placed in highly-concentrated Hispanic areas in NYC. A mobile application tied to this campaign called “get bac NYC” was released providing various tools for someone who has been out drinking. A blood alcohol contact (BAC) calculator assigns a blood alcohol level to the user with a message reminding him or her that they should not be driving after drinking.
Beyond the DWI campaign, the strategic foundation of “choices” has been the cornerstone for the new city-wide Vision Zero Initiative to reduce reckless driving, technology distractions, and pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.
The NYC DOT and the Mayor de Blasio himself have touted the DWI campaign and its effectiveness. Addressing the element of “Choices” has been recognized beyond being applied to DWI. Mayor de Blasio has not only embraced this idea but it has also become a cornerstone of the Vision Zero initiative. Include the outcomes, impacts and outputs of the program.