Imaginative and prescient Zero Motion Can Be taught from Auto Trade – Streetsblog USA

This text will seem in Transportation Alternate options’ Imaginative and prescient Zero Cities Journal as a part of the 2020 Imaginative and prescient Zero Cities Convention, which begins in the present day and continues by way of Friday, Oct. 23. You’ll be able to nonetheless register for the convention at

For a few years, I labored within the automotive sector of the promoting trade. Then, I began driving a motorcycle with my children to highschool and at last stopped ingesting the automotive tradition Kool-Assist.

TransAlt's Vision Zero Cities conference runs Oct. 19-23.
TransAlt’s Imaginative and prescient Zero Cities convention runs Oct. 19-23.

However what I realized making and promoting automotive advertisements has worth. The Imaginative and prescient Zero motion might study loads from the advertising practices of the auto trade. As we search to remodel streets and drive visitors deaths all the way down to zero, we will take cues from how vehicles are offered.

Automobile advertisements are focused

Automobile advertisements arrive on our screens in a continuous onslaught. These messages are unimaginable to keep away from, showing year-round in each potential media area and excessive visibility location with an virtually unmatched attain and frequency. Now, clearly, the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion doesn’t have the identical advertising machine supporting their targets, however at its core, automotive advertisements are telling tales, and storytelling can work at any scale. If advocates can undertake the storytelling strategies of the automotive trade, we will presumably present efficient counter-messaging to the automotive trade onslaught.

Commercials work. That’s the reason manufacturers spend tens of millions of {dollars} producing and putting them yearly. This isn’t rocket science. Commercials work as a result of they use refined strategies to attach with their target market, mining demographic and psychographic data to make sure they’re offering messages that can resonate. The Imaginative and prescient Zero motion could not have the assets to acquire such particular knowledge, however we do all have a basic understanding of the mindset of the folks we have to attain. We have to use this.

Contemplate how, proper now, each model is looking for a message related to COVID-19 — reminding prospects that they’re “there for them.” These manufacturers are tapping into the ways in which we’re collectively experiencing a brand new lifestyle and the extraordinarily difficult time so many people are experiencing.

This isn’t about difficult how manufacturers work together with their prospects. It’s about discovering out how they do it so nicely, and the ways in which the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion can study from these manufacturers’ pondering, and their sizable promoting analysis budgets.

With many cities reimagining their streets to adapt to a post-COVID world, that is an apt time to know how the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion can relay efficient messages that push for higher biking, strolling, and public transit — and never revert again to a car-centric “regular.”

Automobile advertisements are emotional

Lincoln's new ad.
Lincoln’s new advert.

If we take a look at a latest Lincoln advert — “The Power of Sanctuary” — we discover a message that of the house as a sanctuary, and that in tough instances, it is very important concentrate on what issues most — on this case, household.

Household and security are the important thing themes communicated right here, and in auto campaigns typically, as a result of how harmful the act of driving actually is. Automobile producers know this and know that there must be fixed reassurance that this side of driving shouldn’t be solely addressed however prioritized. To perform this, there is no such thing as a higher imagery to leverage than that of a kid (within the case of the Lincoln advert, an toddler in a crib). It’s a universally relatable picture and one which instantly cues in as a visible illustration of vulnerability.

Hyundai used this identical sort of images in advertisements for its recent “Assurance” program. The visible of a dad pushing his younger daughter on a swing with a voiceover: “Nothing is extra necessary than household, particularly in unsure instances.” Once more, the message of security and household is strengthened, connecting the automotive in our minds as a protecting software.

The Imaginative and prescient Zero motion ought to be invoking comparable feelings to these introduced out by the youngsters in these advertisements — to not promote a product, after all, however to assist form the notion across the methods that can preserve susceptible highway customers secure. This concept is under no circumstances new. Everyone knows that “if it’s secure for a child, it’s secure for everybody.” The query is that this: How will we illustrate this as automotive advertisements do — in a way that’s universally relatable, emotionally evocative, and serving to to ahead the targets of Imaginative and prescient Zero?

This may be executed utilizing the identical visible strategies that automotive corporations have mastered. As a substitute of highlighting security by way of the options of a automotive, automotive corporations concentrate on what may very well be misplaced — and thus the specter of this loss is implied. In the identical means, the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion can concentrate on what has been misplaced by the failed transportation methods which are in place, or what will be gained by returning the streets to folks. We want much less “this protected bike lane will enhance ridership by X” (though that knowledge is extraordinarily necessary) and extra “this little one can now have the lifestyle that we’d all need for our children.”

It’s value noting right here that there must be a steadiness within the messaging. When invoking youngsters, our message ought to by no means really feel excessive or determined. As a substitute, we wish to suggest universally good emotions. For instance, as a substitute of a “Received’t somebody please consider the youngsters!” vibe, we’ll do higher to land on a picture that means “Take a look at this little one’s pleasure!”

Music can be an especially highly effective software for supporting the emotion your visuals try to create and might have an important impact on in the way in which a message is acquired. Familiarity is necessary, particularly when connecting with an viewers that may not share the identical beliefs, and music is the good bridge. Automobile industrial scores are extraordinarily emotive. Flip off the visuals and also you in all probability can guess the final tone of the spot. And not using a automotive industrial price range to buy the rights to mainstream music that’s constructed into our popular culture consciousness, you possibly can nonetheless mine inventory music that feels acquainted or supporting an area musician to assist create the tone you’re going after.

Automobile advertisements are easy

Simplicity is essential, and automotive advertisements do that nicely. Now, not all automotive advertisements are easy, however for model and particular topical campaigns, they execute this fairly effectively. Nothing is overcomplicated, too busy, or making an attempt to hit a number of touchpoints in hopes of catching a number of goal demographics.

Let’s look again at that Lincoln advert. It’s paced in keeping with its message — so though there is no such thing as a particular language referencing the present crises, the script is crafted nicely sufficient that you simply utterly perceive the angle. This nuance makes the message seem particularly delicate and respectful. Usually, there are doubtless lower than 100 phrases in most automotive advertisements, however a tremendous period of time goes into growing the copy. It’s an artwork kind that’s value listening to when growing inventive.

Equally, the Hyundai advert makes use of solely working footage and the pictures of the household. These primary visuals provide you with all of the cues it is advisable perceive what they’re speaking with out even listening to the voiceover, which is necessary and an added bonus in an age of digital sharing and muted content material.

What’s the lesson of all this? Hold it easy. Regardless of the piles of Imaginative and prescient Zero statistics, and all of the transformative environmental, financial, and social impacts of full streets that you could be wish to scream from the mountaintops, it is very important be selective within the message we try to speak — particularly proper now. We lose our viewers once we pile on all the advantages of our targets. As a substitute, bear in mind who your target market is, select one avenue, and do it nicely. A singular, easy message is best than watering down when it’s important to say with a number of items of knowledge, particularly within the promoting area, the place data and details are sometimes met with apprehension.

Automobile advertisements are relatable

The Lincoln and Hyundai advertisements above share a relatable theme, as a result of we’re all going by way of the challenges of COVID-19 collectively, so thematically this clearly works for a large viewers. The visible make-up for the Hyundai advert is of a mean household sharing time collectively, which after all will hit house for his or her outlined goal market and join with many past.

It is a good instance of why it’s so essential to outline our supposed viewers, so we will tailor the inventive appropriately, and ship efficient communication. For the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion usually, we’ve got to recollect to attempt to spotlight our commonalities and to keep away from being too polarizing. It’s actually tough to persuade folks to help methods that they’ve been instructed are problematic to their life and profit individuals who they can not relate to — however that is typically what folks have been instructed about bike lanes and efforts to scale back automotive visitors. Whereas we will thank years of car-centric coverage, poor municipal management, limitless rhetoric, and false narratives for therefore many unknowingly adopting these attitudes, we will additionally take management of this message.

That is why re-humanizing folks on bikes, and actually anybody that’s not in a automotive, is the precedence.

Earlier than we strategize on how you can be extra relatable and subsequently shift perceptions, let’s take a look at how folks on bikes are typically seen. All of us settle for that youngsters journey bikes, in truth, all of us love this, and it’s a supply of nice nostalgia as a part of the hallowed coming of age story typically celebrated in popular culture. However these children become old, get hold of their driver’s licenses, and develop as much as be good, hard-working, car-driving People. If these youngsters proceed to cycle into maturity, then they’re instantly match right into a handful of adverse stereotypes: City Elitist, Hipster, Militant Activist, Granola Hippie, Lycra Highway Warrior — decide your poison.

There’s such a disconnect between the narratives of a kid and grownup on a motorcycle and one that’s an uphill battle to bridge, to say the least, but when we will faucet into a few of these preliminary optimistic nostalgic feelings tied to streets that felt secure for kids to bike, and attribute them to our present communications, we’ve got an opportunity at bridging this hole. If we will join bicycling as adults to bicycling as youngsters, we will discover widespread floor and reshape the preconceived notions of what a “bike owner” actually is. As soon as our target market can see themselves in our messaging, the underlying coverage and planning will be offered to a extra open-minded group.

Studying from the enemy

In 2019, I put these concepts to the take a look at. I labored with the transportation advocacy group Transportation Alternate options to create a sequence of “automotive model” commercials about bicycles.

Utilizing the strategies mentioned on this article, the advert — titled “Forgotten” — had a aim of inspiring folks to reconnect with their forgotten bicycles. Within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when visitors was down and streets have been being opened up, secure biking grew to become an actual possibility for therefore many, together with those that had not ridden a bicycle in a very long time. (See it under.)


Concentrating on that broad viewers, we aimed to maintain the tone gentle and considerably whimsical. The story instructed within the advert frames the bicycle as an outdated pal who was simply ready to be sought out once more. Nothing heavy-handed, data-driven, or hard-hitting right here. Somewhat, it is a inventive story that might be acquainted to viewers, that the bicycle is there merely to be loved. The ultimate line of copy hints at nostalgia, and extra optimistic carefree days of the previous that the bicycle could have as soon as introduced.

It is a prime instance of how, because the Imaginative and prescient Zero motion spreads all over the world, we’ve got the ability to assist adults rediscover their childhood relationship with their streets, and encourage them to behave for his or her youngsters, to assist take again what’s rightfully theirs. With efficient communications, we will carry much more folks into the motion. Right here’s a technique:


This text outlines only a few strategies that we will use when growing advertisements to focus on a broader viewers for the Imaginative and prescient Zero trigger. After all, there’s a place for quite a lot of totally different inventive types, messaging, and content material to be showcased relying on the targets and the viewers. So long as we preserve our message relatable, seat what we’ve got to say in feelings as a substitute of statistics, and preserve it easy, there are such a lot of tales to inform as we advocate for safer and more healthy communities for everybody.

Tom Flood has spent 15 years in advertising/promoting and lots of of these producing automotive commercials. At the moment produces quite a lot of content material by way of Rovélo Inventive. Comply with him on Twitter @tomflood1.

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