London Mayor Sadiq Khan might be running into trouble with the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez), with, among other protests, the ad watchdog reportedly receiving 378 complaints questioning the validity of the health claims made in a new ad campaign.
Yet everyone knows that Brits love their cars nearly as much as their homes and anything that puts up the cost of motoring is always going to be contentious.
But is there another way? Well, over in Sweden, Stockholm’s transport system, Storstockholms Lokaltrafik, hopes to encourage more people to use its services by showing just how awful driving can actually be.
The main element of the campaign, devised by creative agency The Sthlm Family, is a three-and-a-half minute video showing a driver struggling to park his car in a tight space – in fact, a space that is way too small for his vehicle.
This ad is designed to annoy viewers to the point where they no longer want to use their car to travel, in the hopes that they will hop on a bus or train instead.
As well as the video, the campaign will also run outdoors, in press and on social media.
Storstockholms Lokaltrafik head of marketing communications Johan Nordgren said: “We want to show situations with a high recognition factor, and we want to show that there are alternatives.
“With increased inflation and high fuel prices, SL and public transport offer a cheaper and more convenient way to travel in many locations. Therefore, the campaign must implicitly communicate the advantage of avoiding traffic queues, looking for parking, and paying expensive parking fines.”
The Sthlm Family art director Hedda Hyland and copywriter Ulf Paulsrud-Sirbäck added: “We like the idea of meeting the recipient in the same context they find themselves in when they see the advertisement.
“Therefore, we chose to specify the location of all devices to get the maximum effect at the receiver. It is also a touchy thought for us to be able to induce anxiety and a feeling of ‘why-the-hell-I-didn’t-travel-with-SL-instead’ when motorists are sitting there alone in their cars.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, first up, this ad is unlikely to work in the UK as most Brits will keep driving round and round and round a town to find a place; they don’t give up that easily.
That said, it is obviously not targeted at the British mentality, so maybe Swedes aren’t so stubborn. And maybe – as we suspect – in Sweden they have a much better transport system, where buses and train runs regularly and are always on time so you don’t actually need a bloody car.
To be fair, after a minute of watching this film we were ready to put our feet through the screen. Then again, we guess that’s the point…
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “driving us crazy” 6 out of 10