Learning to “Drive social”

I love the idea behind the latest road safety campaign, the “Drive Social” campaign. Who is on the road with you? Who are the people that you share the road and who intrinsically trust you not to do anything stupid to harm them. Now that you know these people, can you respect their lives please?

I’ve written about road safety campaigns before when the Gruen Transfer took to the Australian road safety ads. Developing a road safety campaign would be diabolical. In 50-75 years of road safety ads I would be pretty sure EVERY idea has been tried 9 or 10 times. Pretty sure that a splatter ad would work, but then there would be diminishing returns on gore if they were run year after year, so you need to try something else.

Drive Social is pleasantly different. It tries to evoke an emotional kinship for fellow car-driving commuters. Before I saw the fine TV ads, I thought drive social was a match-making car-pooling site, now that is an idea whose time has come!

I like the TV ads and unlike the site.

I’m not sure that that is a really a problem though. The site matches you with other commuters on your route or at least matches their Facebook profile pics with yours. Facebook profile pics aren’t people. They never were. For years many people have lived and hidden behind avatars. Of the nine people that shared my 4 km commute (I was embarrassed when I found that it was only 4lm – but that route did not including dropping kids at school on the way etc..), two had a comic avatar and others included designs and pictures of their kids. Mine is of a duck (an endangered duck).

I learnt about their music preferences and others things that they might do while commuting. Please don’t get distracted. That was OK, but hardly enough for me to connect with these people. I don’t and will never know their names, their humor, their ludicrous anxieties, their favourite movie, diet, sports team or the last cafe that really served a nice coffee.

It is a smart site www.drivesocial.co.nz. But on my laptop using my home wireless it was slow. I haven’t been on a slow site for years.

Love the campaign, but disappointed with the site. I look forward to the blood and splatter campaign next year.

Phil Bilbrough (@philbilbrough) is a freelance online advertising specialist who is blogging on the subject for Scoop at Advertising.scoop.co.nz. He can be contacted at phil@bilbrough.com.

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