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A long, long time ago on a roadside not so far away the children of 1970s Britain were rescued from their roadside recklessness by one safety-conscious superhero: Green Cross Code Man. But then, one day, after years of successfully tackling road accident rates, he vanished.
Then, during Road Safety Week 2014, 40 years after his first appearance, the man in the green suit returned, thanks to Cow and MORE TH>N, as part of a campaign to make Britain’s roads safer for pedestrians and motorists. A little older and greyer, but with just as much passion for road safety – and this time his sights were firmly set on stopping adults using smartphones and wearing headphones while they crossed the road.
To coincide with Road Safety Week 2014, we scripted and filmed two brand new public information films starring the original Green Cross Code Man, Star Wars actor David Prowse, and some absent-minded, tech-obsessed adult pedestrians. Elements of the dialogue and the scenarios were drawn from a new Green Cross Code for Grownups, which we had crowdsourced with MORE TH>N’s Facebook community.
It’s probably safe to say that the return of the Green Cross Code Man was one of the most talked about stories of 2014. In fact, we achieved no less than 27 national news writeups, with half to full-page articles in EVERY national newspaper and their online equivalents. This included stunning pieces in Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Metro, The Independent, i, Daily Express, The Sun, Daily Star, Guardian online, Mail Online, Telegraph.co.uk, Independent online, Express.co.uk, Mirror.co.uk,Dailystar.co.uk, Times online, Metro.co.uk and even national BBC News.
Such a national spread prompted a flurry of broadcast coverage (33 pieces to be exact) with the story, and interviews with David Prowse, seen on The One Show, Sky News, ITV National News at 6, BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show and more regional radio stations and newspapers than you can shake a stick at.
All of this, along with further coverage in several high-reach onlines has dramatically increased awareness of the need for pedestrians to adhere to the green cross code when out and about, and importantly put away their smartphones and take off their headphones when crossing the road!
In total the films have had an incredible 380,000 views on the MORE TH>N Facebook and YouTube pages, not to mention being shared extensively on Twitter, creating an astonishing social engagement rate for MORE TH>N of 38% – compared to a typical rate of 1.5%.
But more than just get people and the press talking, the return of the Green Cross Code Man genuinely changed people’s behaviours, with post-campaign awareness analysis shows one in every three adult Britons saw the films, with 66% of those saying they have now changed their roadside behaviours, directly as a result of seeing the campaign.
Already the campaign has been recognised on the awards circuit, bagging the gong for Corporate Social Responsibility at the CIPR Excellence Awards.
It’s fair to say the force was strong with this one.