The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) Social Marketing class 2012 this year for their final year project focused their energy on a campaign against texting and driving. Despite the lack of local empirical evidence to support the choice of the campaign, it was duly justified based on emerging evidence and policy regionally and worldwide. Trinidad and Tobago, for example has implemented a law against the use of cellular telephones while on the roads from as early as February 2011. The law states:
“No person shall drive or have charge of a motor vehicle on any road while holding or using a hand-held mobile device.”
“No person shall use a wireless communication device to view, send or compose an electronic message while driving or having charge of a vehicle.”
Breach of this regulation renders a person liable to a fine of $1,500 or three months imprisonment.
The campaign by the social marketing group therefore rightly claims to be proactive in calling attention to this issue in Jamaica. They launched a campaign aimed at heightening awareness and behaviour change (less texting and driving) targeted at students of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The campaign recently ended but there were a number of innovative ideas employed by the students in order to communicated their message.
1. The Chalkwalk
The students drew large images of their campaign logo and slogan #dntxtndrive using chalk. This was not only interesting for passers by after completion, but stimulated interaction with onlookers about the campaign message while the drawing took place.
2. The Walkabout
The students used a steering wheel to dramatically walk around the campus, bumping into people as they passed as a conversation starter about texting and driving.
3. The Flash Mob
A group of dancers partners partnered with the social marketing team to do a flashmob which would highlight the message to onlookers.
And there were other great activities as well including a window wash/wipe event in the university car park and a campaign song. I was impressed by the creativity and work put in by the class to attempt a successful campaign.
But, was the campaign successful? The evaluation suggested that there was only a 13% adaption of the behaviour (the target was 20%). The students have argued, however, that the campaign was implemented in less than 6 months and changing behaviour is a long term activity. Also, 13% is still a positive indicator (the campaign certainly did not cause the behaviour to change in a negative way).
This is a viable argument, however one cannot help but wonder if the students should have even tackled behaviour change to begin with, given the limited time for the campaign. Awareness raising and advocacy could have been a sufficient goal for the time frame. Also, there is the question of whether the University was the best place to target the campaign. How many UWI students drive and was the campaign targeted enough specifically at drivers on the campus?
On Monday, May 14 2012, the day after the evaluation presentation of the campaign by the students the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies announced that persons who use mobile phones while driving will soon face fines, with the promulgation of new legislation by the end of 2012, which will make the practise illegal (view article). This cannot necessarily be directly attributed to the students’ campaign (unless Mr. Davies confirms :)) but it may have been influenced by the campaign. As such, a hearty congratulations to the students for raising awareness of this issue inside and outside of the walls of the University!
View the students’ presentation here.