Allstate Canada steps up PR efforts to counter distracted driving
October 22, 2013 | Rebecca Harris | Comments
Allstate Canada has launched a new campaign to counter distracted driving among teens.
Distraction-Free 23 (#DF23) asks teens to give up their cellphones for 23 hours. The idea is to raise awareness about the fact that drivers are 23 times more likely to get into a collision if texting while driving.
Teens are being asked to sign an online pledge at DistractionFree23.ca, promising to give up their tech distractions starting at 4 p.m. (in each respective time zone in Canada) on Nov. 22.
“We are all becoming addicted to our cellphones, and there’s this expectation that when our friends send us a message, we need to get back to them right away,” said Karen Benner, manager of public relations at Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “The idea of the campaign is to show that if you can go 23 hours without your cellphone and everybody is okay, then surely you can go a few minutes in the car without being on your phone.”
For the past three years, Allstate has worked with PR firm Thornley Fallis on getting the message out that distracted driving kills. In 2010, the “Action Against Distraction” campaign had teens count distracted drivers at busy morning intersections near their schools. Last year, Allstate launched its “Just Drive Canada” contest in which high school students were asked to create a video, song or image of a solution to distracted driving.
Despite awareness campaigns and legislation in some jurisdictions that bans cellphone use while driving, Allstate said distracted driving is actually getting worse, not better.
“We wanted to do something completely different to bring attention to the issue,” said Diane Bégin, senior consultant at Thornley Fallis in Toronto.
On October 3-4, #DF23 was tested locally with 60 students at Rick Hansen Secondary School (RHSS) in Mississauga, Ont. Participants handed over their technology devices and spent the night at the school. They took part in team-building exercises, but also had some free time to play board games or musical instruments. “The students said it was actually kind of nice to be away from their technology and talk to one another,” said Bégin.
The pilot project resulted in 42 media clips from 10 different local outlets for a total reach of more than 9.7 million. Video footage of the event at Rick Hansen Secondary School will be used to promote the online pledge. Benner said the goal is to get 1,000 people to sign up.