When you think about it, safety is a serious business. Whether it is about preventing injuries or supporting successful outcomes, no matter how you look at it, no one wants people to get hurt. But I wonder. Does the serious nature of safety stifle our creativity? If you have a bit of fun with safety do people think that you aren’t taking it seriously?
Following on from their 2009 safety briefing Nothing to Hide, last year Air New Zealand launched its onboard safety briefing An Unexpected Briefing. The safety video was inspired by the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. (They have just followed it up with The Bear Essentials of Safety starring Bear Grylls). The company said that ‘An Unexpected Briefing’ was a further reflection of the world-class creative talents of New Zealanders. Interesting that they wanted to differentiate themselves through creativity, not safety performance.
I believe that there is a place for creativity in conveying safety information and messages. When done well it engages the audience and is memorable. The Air New Zealand safety briefings are an example of that. A creative message can generate discussion. But care is needed to make sure that people are talking about your message for the right reasons.
About 10 years ago I was working at a steel processing facility. The first day back after the Christmas break was always Safety Reorientation. We were required to spend the day taking all the employees through the safety handbook and review significant risks. Focus their minds back on the job. I was lucky to have a like-minded Operations Manager and we decided to make the day fun.
We split the employees into group and created challenges in which they had to compete to get points for their teams. For example, instead of showing the safety handbook via PowerPoint presentation we turned it into a trivia competition. I was the quiz master, calling out safety questions whose answers were in the handbook. And you know what? A great amount of discussion was generated, most of the questions were answered correctly and it was fun. The team members discussed their answers and it was also an effective way of involving the employees for who english was their second language.
They say that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ but I am not so sure. I am not a fan of using creativity for the sake of being different. It has to add to the message, not detract from it. An ad campaign recently caught my eye. It was the Motor Accident Commission – Speeding. We all play a part. ad campaign. To me there is no question that it is a better alternative to the usual graphic horror used in speed kills ads. But I am not sure that it will have the desired impact. What do you think?