Why one Kiwi reckons New Zealand’s road safety ads are best


Have you seen that drink driving advert that's on TV right now?

It's the one with the guy sitting on the couch with a bottle of red wine on the table, glass in hand. The wife calls wanting a lift 'cause it's raining SUPER heavy, but he says no because he's on his second drink. He ends up in the spare room, on a li-lo – in the doghouse. But alive.


This is a series of campaigns that look at the combination of drinking, peer pressure, and driving. It combines humour, real-world situations, and a touch of graphic imagery when the 'thought-crash' happens to the protagonist.


How it came about


Research had shown that people weren't associating the widely accepted notion that drink driving was bad with their own behaviour. The consensus was: 'Only idiots drive after a heavy night on the lash, but I've only had a couple so I'm fine...'


The Department for Transport decided to shift their campaign focus, showing people that they could be the ones causing the crash, even if they’d only had ‘one or 2.’


This got me thinking about other road safety campaigns. I wanted to see what sort of themes and ideas they used to get messages across, other than the brutal crashes and graphic imagery that are normally associated with road safety adverts.


And, as a Kiwi in London, I wanted to see whether New Zealand beats the UK. Obviously.


The Midlands


It's pretty on point. We’ve all seen some buffoon thinking he's the cock-of-the-roost (seriously, who would ever think revving a scooter was wicked?! Yet still, it happens).

And pretty much everyone that sees it rolls their eyes and wonders how long that muppet's been an 8-year-old. But there is a more serious side to this - if you mess up while showing off, someone could get hurt.




If you've ever been to Thailand, you’ll know that the roads kinda resemble the Wild West - the rules are fast and loose. But that doesn't mean you can just do what you want.

While the rules are a bit different over there, the message is the same. If you're speeding, you have less time to react to a hazard.


New Zealand


This little once-colony has quite a history with their roads. Between the UK, Australia and Canada, New Zealand normally has the highest road death toll per capita.

The State Highways that connect the country have more in common with the UK's B-roads than anything else. While this does mean that the scenery and the country-side are shown off to glorious effect, it also means drivers and their passengers are at high risk.


Combine that with a relatively rudimentary public transport system AND intoxicants, you have one dangerous cocktail. So the New Zealand Transport Authority is always on the hunt for new ways to get the debate on road safety, drunk/drug driving, and speeding into the spotlight.

Hence the next 4 road safety ads all being straight outta New Zealand. I'm not biased; they're just winning at it.




This one went fairly viral when it came out. It was a step away from the shock tactics of mangled bodies and emotional blackmail that were employed in previous campaigns.

Instead, the clip-makers decided to use humour to address a new generation of drivers. It was meant to highlight and tackle the issues that people may have when they want to speak up to a friend, but are worried they might be ridiculed for it or 'kill the mood.'


The success of the campaign spawned several other adverts using this new approach that tackled the serious topic of drug driving.


Bizarrely, 32% of the New Zealanders who were polled about drug driving thought it was safe to smoke cannabis and then drive. This, despite the fact that 1/4 of all drivers and motorcyclists who had been killed on the roads had cannabis in their system. 1/4! Cue the campaign!




What IS a grown man going to do with 12 frosty pigs (they're cakes)? The ad tackles the issue quite well, because a few people will look at that and say, 'Ha, yeah, I did that last week.'

But when it gets to the end of the ad, which has been highlighting how off-it these people are, and they then get into a vehicle? Makes you think...


Blazed As


This one shows the perspective of the kids whose parents drive them home after 'blazing.' It starts off with the classic, 'my dad's better than your dad,' which we’ve all spouted at one point or another. But then it shows the other side of their fathers that they see after a sesh.

And finally, moving away from intoxicants and back into the realm of distractions while driving, there's this gem.




This ad was a hit in New Zealand and overseas. You may have seen it being discussed in the Metro, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. And what a way to make sure your driver doesn't go for the phone!

Kiwi creative advert people - we salute you. Don't go changing.


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