Walking across a street has never been more dangerous. We live in a fast-paced world, so we frequently find ourselves in such a hurry that we don’t even have enough time to wait for the traffic lights to change green. In major European cities, thousands of pedestrians who are either distracted or not patient enough on streets and sidewalks can fall victims to road accidents. In Paris only, 4,500 people get injured in these situations every year.

To make French people aware of the fact that it takes only one second to avoid a tragedy, Serviceplan France and the French road safety authority DRIEA (Direction Régionale et Interdépartementale de l’Equipement et l’Aménagement) developed a clever billboard that imitates danger and alerts pedestrians that they are not the only ones on the street. To save as many lives as possible, the two partners developed an interactive panel called “Virtual Crash Billboard” that scared pedestrians in order to protect them.

Learning how to safely cross the road is the most important lesson for a child. Teaching an adult the same thing may prove to be even harder. Our weekly #ThrowBrandThursday column presents DRIEA’s drastic, but valuable, road safety lesson that makes careless citizens aware of the street dangers they can avoid just by being careful and paying more attention.

The powerful campaign materialized in the form of OOH panels, which were placed at the busiest Parisian crossroads at the end of March 2017. A motion detector, concealed speakers, and a camera were hidden inside the billboards. You are probably asking yourself why these features were put inside the panels. For a greater impact, of course.

Here’s how it happened: the campaign unfolded in a domino-like effect, so when the motion sensor detected a pedestrian who crossed the road illegally, it triggered a sound of abruptly braking tires. Then, the camera ‘stepped’ into stage only to capture the shocked grimace of the person who ignored the red light. Pictures of these frightened and reckless people were then displayed on the digital billboard in real time. Their photos included a slogan and a QR code, which directed the pedestrians to video messages from a group of real crash survivors.

Although being a bit brutal, the purpose of the campaign was to protect people. The Paris-based agency created a 2-minute-long video, while it used the captured photos as warning posters and displayed them on train stations. Moreover, the movement was accompanied by a Facebook campaign.

This brilliant concept achieved its goal and sparked a nation-wide discussion. The idea hit the internet and totalized 6 million organic views on social and mass media. It gathered 18 million impressions and over 250,000 social media interactions and, most importantly, it was applauded by the French Government, which kindly supported the initiative.

“Don’t take the risk to face death. When crossing the street, pay attention to the traffic lights,” says the caption. Adopt appropriate behavior in traffic. This is how fear looks, doesn’t it give you the chills?


Agency: Serviceplan France

Client: DRIEA