Fear Tracktics


Central station in Brisbane is currently the site for a simple yet confronting campaign launched by the Queensland Government and Queensland Rail titled ‘Coffins’. The stations main foyer features the tangible and chillingly direct message, a full sized coffin made from sleepers laying upon rail tracks. This campaign is reminiscent of previous government and national campaigns that target fear as the motivator to adjust our dangerous behaviors.The Transport and Main Roads Minister, Scott Emerson, stated in a press release that “While this message is shocking, we make no apologies for this confronting campaign”.
Last year over 5,500 trespass and track crossing incidents were reported on the Queensland Rail network, almost 100 a week (Emerson, 2013). This was  stimulus for a bold campaign that would not hold back on graphic imagery looking for a response from commuters to be safe.

Their social media presence on Facebook mentioned the campaign however did not serve as a platform to launch it. The page http://www.facebook.com/QueenslandRail remains a community for people to complain about service and for service changes to be announced. News sites promoted the campaign by covering the launch with information from the media release (Calligeros, 2013).

Assuming the metrics for the campaign are reduced trespassing, track crossings and near misses, then the results will have to wait. However, previous campaigns that are similar can predict what Queensland Rail can expect. A safety campaign that lasted one month in 2010, initiated by National Rail Safety Week, was able to record positive results. After seeing the outdoor media placed at train stations “a majority of respondents agreed they are less likely to engage in potentially unsafe/dangerous behaviour in an around trains and stations” (NSW Government Strategic Communications, 2013). The most ambitious fear tactic used by the Australian Government to affect behavior and prevent risks to the public could be the Grim Reaper campaign against AIDS/HIV in 1987. The campaign saw much critism for its graphic decpition of death and dispair, however results followed. By the mid-1980s over 3000 HIV infections were occurring each year and by 1992 infections were down to 500 a year (Thompson, J. 2013). Although these figures are not completely driven by the campaign due to the large amount of initiatives that were activated in those years, a lot can be said for awareness that the campaign generated.

Saving lives on tracks does not need to be based on fear tactics. Metro Trains’ recruited ad agency McCann Melbourne to create a catchy, light hearted yet serious video to convey their message.  Leah Waymark, general manager of corporate relations for Metro Trains, claimed a 20 percent reduction in risky behaviour compared to previous annual safety figures (mUmBRELLA, 2013). The video was a viral mobile success, and currently has over 45 million views on YouTube.

Safety around trains will be an ongoing goal for the industry, with more fear tactics and perhaps even animations with catchy songs. Choosing the approach however will not be as predictable. In saying this, tracks have been laid for the future for mobile advertising and creative, innovative, response generating content.

Calligeros, M. 2013. Mess with trains, it’s your funeral. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/mess-with-trains-its-your-funeral-20130416-2hwqn.html. [Accessed 30 April 2013].

Emerson, S. 2013. Not everyone makes it across the tracks – The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory. [ONLINE] Available at: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/4/16/not-everyone-makes-it-across-the-tracks. [Accessed 30 April 2013].

mUmBRELLA. 2013. Dumb Ways to Die viral ‘leads to 20% drop in dumb behaviour at Melbourne train stations’ – mUmBRELLA. [ONLINE] Available at: http://mumbrella.com.au/dumb-ways-to-die-viral-leads-to-20-drop-in-dumb-behaviour-at-melbourne-train-stations-138464. [Accessed 30 April 2013].

NSW Government Strategic Communications. 2013. National Rail Safety Week | NSW Strategic Communications. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.advertising.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/national-rail-safety-week. [Accessed 30 April 2013].

Thompson, J. 2013. ‘there isn’t room for ambiguity’ – AIDS Action Council of the ACT. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.aidsaction.org.au/content/events/reflections/there_isnt_room_for_ambiguity.php. [Accessed 30 April 2013].

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