}

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fix, Fasten


New Zealand does a great job of creating commercials and campaigns designed to get New Zealanders to think about natural disasters. Their latest series is among the best yet.

The ads in this post are from EQC (the Earthquake Commission), which is responsible not just for earthquakes and preparedness, but also other natural disasters like tsunami, volcanic eruption, landslides, and hydrothermal events. The preparedness part is what these ads promote.

Specifically, they try to motivate people to fix and fasten anything that could come loose in an earthquake, things like tall furniture, hot water cylinders, chimneys, and even house foundations (to keep houses from sliding off their foundations in an earthquake), and it does so by promoting “Fix. Fasten. Don’t Forget.” a special section of EQC’s website with everything people need to know to, well, fix and fasten things.

The ad up top, “Cylinder”, is my favourite of the bunch. In 30 seconds it depicts a variety of people taking a small actions to keep people safe, ending with a man securing a hot water cylinder. “One small action can make a difference,” the onscreen text tells us as the man works.

They’re absolutely right, of course, but what makes these ads so effective is that they use everyday imagery—things completely unrelated to natural disaster—to drive home the point that small actions can prevent injury. The fact the ads have no dialogue helps to make the visuals stand out even more, I think. These are really good ads.

The ad below is the 15-second version of “Bookshelf”. It begins with one of the most powerful images in the series—a woman throwing out her arm to keep a man from being hit by a truck—and ends with a woman securing a bookshelf.

Together, these ads are quite different from the preparedness ads we usually see, which is part of what makes them so effective. They may just manage to cut through all the “noise” of advertising to make their point.

Still, I haven’t yet followed their advice, even though I’m quite aware of both risk and preparedness. We have some tall bookshelves that could topple in a severe jolt, and I’ve often thought about the importance of securing them. I’m sure I will get to it, though I’m obviously gambling that I’ll get to it before there’s a big jolt. I imagine most other people are doing the same.

And yet, if these ads at least get people thinking about what they need to do, that’s a major hurdle they’ve overcome. There’s no way to force people to do what’s best for themselves, after all.

Be that as it may, I fully intend to fix and fasten, and I won’t forget. Hopefully I’ll get to it before I need it.


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