People often expect the most innovative communication to come from big brands in the private sector, but that’s not always the case. It might seem like an unexpected topic for smart and inventive design, but some of the best traffic safety ads are masterclasses in visual communication.
When you think about it, it all makes sense. Road safety is something everyone already knows. We already know drunk driving is wrong, we know we should wear a seatbelt and not use our phones while driving. People turn off when they hear these messages, so it takes something very smart to do and get people’s attention and, maybe, change their behavior.
For more examples of great visual design communications, check out our selection of the best billboard ads and the best print ads. In the meantime, here are three of the boldest and smartest road safety ads we’ve seen.
01. This shocking optical illusion road safety ad
This road safety advertisement created in 2013 by the English-language Pakistan-based newspaper The Frontier Post is ingeniously simple yet very impactful. At first glance, it appears to represent a gun accompanied by the copy “Takes a life every 25 seconds”. But look a little closer, and you see the gun is actually a car key. The analogy cleverly conveys how deadly a motor vehicle can be. No, it’s not subtle, but when it comes to making an impact with a message that’s already tired, a hard-nosed approach sometimes works best. The minimalist execution makes the message all the more clear.
02. This reflection! road sign poster
At first glance, this road safety advertisement seems to make no sense. And that’s exactly the point. Designed to discourage drivers from using their mobile phones while driving, the ad shows a fictional road sign made up of two sentences intertwined in a way that makes it difficult to concentrate on either one. The poster was the work of Think!, which organizes road safety campaigns in the UK, and AMV BBDO, in 2002, when mobile phones were less “smart” (and less distracting) than they are today. today. It seems even more relevant today.
Advertising on the seat belt of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec
This clever road safety campaign highlights the importance of wearing seatbelts through a series of close-ups that show a year of birth and, presumably, death. The second year is covered by a seat belt, since it saved their lives. The campaign was created for the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec by the creative agency lg2 (opens in a new tab) in 2012. We don’t know who’s wearing a t-shirt with the year of birth and death, but it certainly grabs attention.