Chevrolet paints the town wet

By Anirban Roy Choudhury , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Published : July 22, 2016
The brand has painted the roads of Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai with wet paints using hydrophobic technology to raise awareness for road safety.

The monsoons have finally hit the country and it's raining everywhere! Though it's a huge respite after the scorching heat of summer as temperatures have dipped, it has brought with it the usual road safety woes.

The monsoon story is not so happy and happening when we see the traffic statistics. The number of road mishaps goes up a few notches higher each monsoon as people are too busy avoiding getting wet rather than concentrate on the road.

Considering road accident casualties during the monsoons and to ensure road safety, auto giant Chevrolet, a division of the US-headquartered General Motors, has launched its 'Drive with Care' campaign'. As part of the campaign, Chevrolet has also released a video that shows innovative road signs using hydrophobic paint, which can only be seen when wet.

Chevrolet's 'Drive with Care' campaign

Chevrolet's 'Drive with Care' campaign

Chevrolet's 'Drive with Care' campaign

The idea is to make road safety a top-of-the-mind concern during the monsoons. The video can be watched on YouTube, Facebook, and other media channels

Besides the video, safety messages saying 'Drive with Care' with wet paints and stencils will be painted in select residential areas in designated cities. One of the messages among several others across the cities is from 16-year-old Shruti, a road accident victim. It says, "I ran to avoid the rain, but the car was also in a hurry." The messages are written using hydrophobic technology and will become visible every time raindrops fall on them. The messages will disappear once the area is dry.

Chevrolet's 'Drive with Care' campaign

"The longevity of these messages is around 45-60 days," informs Jack Uppal, vice-president, marketing and customer experience, General Motors.

Globally, road safety has always been a key area of focus for Chevrolet, and it is no different in India either.

The campaign is spread across the roads of Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi. "The first round of execution will involve the three cities, and if we have successfully managed to generate awareness and curved down the accident statistics in those areas, we will go ahead in other metros and Tier Two cities as well. As for the video, it will be pushed aggressively on both YouTube and Facebook, and we are expecting a good reach there. We will also buy spots on television, especially on the news channels. It will be primarily on digital and television," asserts Uppal.

Jack Uppal

Krista Church Young

The auto-giant tied up with Nielsen and ValueNotes to find out the number of accidental deaths during the monsoons, and decided to run the awareness campaign in order to educate people about road safety. Chevrolet gave the mandate for the creative execution to Commonwealth McCann.

"After seeing the statistics, we were of the opinion that we need to enhance the awareness not only of drivers, but also of pedestrians. The primary objective of the campaign was to create a safety communication in an innovative way. We firmly believe in innovation and in all our communications, we've tried to do something different," says Uppal.

Brushing the roads of Mumbai during the monsoons was no easy task, informs Krista Church Young, head of operations, Commonwealth McCann. The sudden appearance of the text in the middle of the road can distract riders/drivers. "We were cautious about it and that is why we chose broader roads. The idea is to create awareness with an emotional connect," she says.

The entire film is shot in Mumbai and Jaipur. "We went to the homes of road accident victims," says Young.

The 1.53 second-video starts with the research findings, showing busy roads in the background. The video first puts forth the statistics, followed by the plight of victims' families. Eventually, the focus shifts to the paintings on the roads. Even after the painting is done, the camera finds nothing on the road until it is hit by rain. Once the raindrops hit the hydrophobic wet paint, the messages are visible. The reaction of the people reading the messages is then recorded, and the film ends with the 'Drive with Care' message written on the road just above the Chevrolet logo.

Manish Bhatt, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, gives full marks to the effort and the innovation. He finds it different from what has been done so far around the subject of road safety awareness. But, he feels the success of the campaign will depend on the scale, and the level.

Manish Bhatt

Rohit Raj

"In India, there is constant rainfall during the monsoons, so for to create shock value, you have to be there at the time when it is just starting to rain. It is highly probable that the messages end up as normal road paints otherwise, and then the shock factor will hardly be there for people on the road," he says.

Bhatt is also not convinced with the concept of the awareness campaign. "Unless and until we are showing a clear solution with an effective communication, the awareness campaigns just become an easy way out," he says.

Rohit Raj, co-founder and creative head, The Glitch, also known as the right brain, also doubts the fact that the initiative will lead to some solution. He says, "Road safety is a point of concern for people in all big cities and where there are people, brands would love to help solve the problem to garner their share of fame. The problem is that most of the time, they become tactical solutions that are done for the sake of the 30 seconds of fame, and don't really improve the condition of people. This, unfortunately, is one such tactical piece where an innovation has been used to create a buzz, but will it change the condition of road safety in the country? I doubt it."

But, Raj finds the contextual usage of the technology "bang on". He says, "If I were to witness this on the streets, I will be in awe for sure. But, as a video case study, the impact of the 'awe' is much lower. That said, the idea is definitely a good one, and not a force fit in the space."

He feels there is not enough of the brand, though. "I missed the brand completely. I actually ended up going back to the video to confirm the brand. I assumed this was for the tyre brand that used road safety as its communication cue over the years,"

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