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Wild animals were ‘let loose’ in central Melbourne as part of a road safety campaign devised by Swinburne University students for the annual Re:act behaviour change program.

The selected Melbourne campaign for Re:act 2020, ‘You miss a lot when you’re distracted’, depicted vulnerable road users (VRUs) oblivious to the virtual presence of wild animals in the city to highlight the road safety topic of distraction, a major challenge for all young road users, including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

The annual Re:act program challenges university students to create a behaviour change campaign that raises awareness among 18-25 year old road users of a critical road safety issue where they are over-represented. The Re:act 2020 topic is distraction.

An initiative of creative behaviour change agency Hard Edge, Re:act, now in its fifth year, is running in 2020 in Melbourne with Swinburne University, UTS in Sydney and, for the first time, Brisbane, through QUT. The program has also expanded internationally this year into London, at University of the Arts London (UAL).

The selected campaign for Re:act 2020 in Melbourne, ‘You miss a lot when you’re distracted’, was devised by Laura Hughes, Caitlin Xavier, Stephanie Powell and Thomas Pritchard. It features inspired use of colour on wild animals and a correlating road safety danger, such as a car. The team aimed to produce a campaign that was ‘new and different’, avoiding typical cautionary messaging, and focusing on pedestrians.

Campaigns rounding out the top three in Melbourne were ‘The Distractors’, which created animated characters to represent specific distractions, and ‘You wouldn’t do this distracted’, which brought ideas of juxtaposition, such as the ‘sex sells’ adage, to the road safety space.

Selected student campaigns in other cities will be presented and decided in coming weeks.

Re:act founder and CEO Andrew Hardwick said the standard of students’ campaigns for Melbourne 2020 was outstanding. The quality and creativity of the campaigns was also praised by Re:act industry partners, including Australia Post, TAC, RACV, Telstra, Transurban, VicRoads and NRSPP, who described them as ‘sensational’, ‘phenomenal’, ‘very professional’ and ‘on par with agency work’.

Feedback from program partners also reinforced the importance of Re:act’s ability to give students a ‘real-world’ experience, and to spark road safety conversations among young road users.

With funding from the Re:act program, the students behind each selected campaign will work with the support of Hard Edge to launch their campaigns on their respective university campuses. Re:act media partner, oOh!media, is providing amazing support this year and will run the campaigns in each Australian city across hundreds of their digital assets, including its landmark billboards.

Andrew Hardwick
Re:act Founder and Hard Edge Managing Director

“We’re constantly amazed and reminded why we do this each year. All the students did an amazing job to work in groups and produce such fantastic work. Every campaign was on brief, and every group produced a strong campaign with great insight.

“Everybody was engaged with the program throughout the whole process, despite the challenges of restrictions. Industry partners, who obviously faced changed working circumstances and home schooling; the students, who were working as groups but remotely in isolation; and Swinburne University, who did a fantastic job to keep the program moving forward in its fifth year.

“The selected campaign displayed insightful thinking to be able to make the audience look at something that’s out of place while at the same time relate it to something that is present that they need to pay attention to. It was very clever treatment of colour to highlight the animal and vehicle, and the campaign was very Melbourne-centric in its activation.”

Laura Hughes
Student who worked on selected campaign

“We wanted to stay away from using overly cautionary, scary tactics and we thought something a little bit lighter – you miss a lot when you’re distracted – so we leveraged that idea out to be applied to still symbolically dangerous but less abrasive things. So we used crocodiles, cheetahs, images that are associated with danger but still have visual impact, to symbolise other things. Crossing a road on a red signal was symbolised by a coral snake, the cheetah represented a car, that sort of thing.

“We decided to focus on pedestrians because we didn’t find a lot in our research on pedestrians, a lot on cars and quite a bit on cyclists and motorcyclists. Pedestrians were a big road user group that wasn’t talked about as much.

“Re:act has been so fantastic, especially during quarantine. It’s been great to be able to get out there in industry at a time when that’s all feeling a bit impossible. It is very different to anything we have done before, and we were all excited to not just be designing things for our portfolio but to feel like we were working on something to actually make a difference.”

 

2020 campaigns – top three