In 2007, Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam launched a transformative CSR campaign, "No Excuse – Wear a Helmet," aimed at raising awareness of helmet usage among the Vietnamese population. This campaign not only reshaped people's perceptions and behaviors regarding helmet use but also spurred regulatory changes by the government. Recognized with accolades such as the IPA Effectiveness Awards Silver and the "Best International Single Market" award, this case study delves into the campaign's details and its remarkable impact on road safety.
"No Excuse – Wear a Helmet" was a communication campaign strategically crafted by Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam. Its primary objective was to elevate awareness about helmet use in Vietnam, a nation facing a severe road safety crisis, particularly concerning motorcycle accidents. In 2003, road traffic accidents resulted in nearly $900 million in damages annually, equivalent to 2.7% of Vietnam's GDP.
While the government introduced helmet regulations in 2001, a staggering 97% of motorcyclists disregarded this vital safety measure at the start of 2007.
During the 1990s, Vietnam experienced rapid motorization, boasting over 21 million motorcycles on its streets, earning the nation a dubious distinction as one of the fastest motorizing countries globally. This growth was accompanied by a surge in road traffic accidents, posing an alarming social problem. Vietnam ranked among the top countries for road traffic fatalities among those aged 18 to 45. Despite the World Health Organization's estimate that proper helmet use could reduce injuries by 72% and deaths by 39%, the significance of helmet usage and motorcycle safety was still not adequately understood.
The overarching goal of the campaign was clear:
Encourage motorcycle riders to wear helmets while on the road.
To achieve this, Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam formulated three key sub-objectives:
Develop the campaign's core idea and prepare necessary materials to secure funding from sponsors and government endorsement.
Focus on changing the behaviors of those most amenable to change regarding helmet usage.
Foster meaningful discussions around the issue to influence government legislation, enforcement, and comprehensive helmet laws.
Two critical insights guided the campaign:
Personal Impact: Interviews revealed that many respondents had experienced the loss or severe injury of a family member due to road accidents. These victims often played central roles in their families, becoming both emotional and financial burdens.
Common Excuses: Despite being aware of the devastating consequences and widespread prevalence of accidents, respondents offered common excuses for not wearing helmets, including concerns about hair, discomfort, social appearance, low-speed driving, and impaired hearing.
Recognizing Vietnam's young demographic, with nearly 60% of the population under 30, Ogilvy & Mather targeted young, first-time motorcycle riders who were theoretically less entrenched in non-compliance habits. The campaign employed segmented television, digital ideas, print ads, and outdoor advertisements to reach potential supporters and the government.
The campaign's core creative idea was to turn frivolous excuses into genuine threats to people's lives.
The campaign commenced in June 2007, garnering $500,000 from sponsors within six months. Following its success, funding increased to $1,073,000.
The percentage of motorcycle riders wearing helmets surged from 3% to over 10% within just four months of the campaign's launch. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, this rate nearly doubled from 10.8% to 19.1%. Helmet usage rates for riders outside the cities also increased significantly. The campaign also influenced individuals aged 18-24 (from 5.3% to 11.3%) and those aged 45 and above (28.8%). Ultimately, the campaign played a pivotal role in the government's decision to enforce nationwide helmet laws on December 15, 2007, ahead of the originally planned summer 2008 deadline.
Objective 1: The campaign secured $500,000 in funding within six months and later amassed $1,073,000.
Objective 2: Helmet usage rates increased dramatically, especially among young riders.
Objective 3: The campaign garnered significant media attention, leading to government action, and, ultimately, the implementation of comprehensive helmet laws.
The campaign received prestigious accolades:
Gold at the Golden Bell Awards (honoring outstanding annual advertising campaigns in Vietnam).
Silver at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.
"Best International Single Market" award from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the United Kingdom.
The "No Excuse – Wear a Helmet" campaign stands as a remarkable example of how strategic communication can drive social change and save lives by tackling ingrained behaviors and attitudes.