Three Strikes to Embrace Life


Last month has seen two adverts highlighting the importance of wearing a seat belt. The Department for Transport re-released a THINK campaign on the fatal consequences of not wearing a seat belt and the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) has created ‘Embrace Life’.  Both take different approaches – it’s interesting to compare them.

Since its launch, ‘Embrace Life’ has been seen in 101 counties. The film was directed by Daniel Cox, a BAFTA award winning film maker (60 Seconds of Fame Category) who contacted SSRP about making a road safety film. Filmed during the summer and launched on 20 January, costing £47,000, it was initially picked up by the local media in Sussex, but once it was put onto the internet the viral campaign exploded.  Ten days after it was launched the ad had 480,000 hits on YouTube and once other sites such as Ad gabber,, and Media Blips showed it, the ad went truly global. The ad has been invited to appear on French national TV and at the ‘ideas worth spreading’ Conference in California. One impressed viewer even set up a Face book fan group for people to show their support. So far it has 1180 members. – A real example of how the internet can spread a message quickly and cheaply.


‘Embrace Life’ tackles the issue of the use/non-use of seat belts in a very different way as a key feature over the years has been powerful, graphic TV advertising showing the effects of not wearing a seat belt in a crash. It is provoking an emotional response in all viewers and can be watched by everyone as it will not make people switch over if they believe they will be watching blood and gore. This approach means that it fits firmly in the family domain and the fact that there is no dialogue means that it can be understood around the world.

The decision to wear a seatbelt is the most important single action that can be taken by a vehicle occupant to minimize the risk of personal injury in a road accident. Even now around 300 lives a year could be saved if drivers and passengers remembered to belt up. THINK! is continuing to work on reinforcing the message to new generations of drivers and passengers and the ‘Three Strikes’ ad illustrates that if you don’t wear a seat belt you will suffer fatal injuries, even at low speeds.  The ad shows a car crash involving ‘Richard’ who is travelling within the speed limit.  The crash depicted whaT would occur in one hundredth of a second in real time, but much of the action is slowed down in order for viewers to take it in.  When he hits another car he is thrown forward and his unbelted body experiences three crashes as follows: his vehicle hits another car; his body hits the steering wheel and the windscreen; and his internal organs smash against his frame and rupture.

Unlike ‘Embrace Life’ the THINK campaign had to make two versions of its ad, one for pre-watershed viewing and one for post-watershed viewing, which shows what actually happens to internal organs in a collision instead of describing the consequence.

Both ads are hard-hitting. ‘Embrace Life’ aims to persuade people to wear their seat belts by playing on their emotions by showing a family setting, while ‘Three Strikes’ visually demonstrates the consequences of not wearing a seat belt. It is interesting to see what effect each approach has. Different people react to different messages in order to influence behaviour and to build compliance. However ‘Embrace life’ and ‘Three Strikes’ both perform a crucial function in highlighting the relative simplicity of the task required. 

To watch the ads go to:

‘Embrace Life’

‘Three Strikes’


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