New Zealand Transport Agency and Clemenger BBDO are on a quest to show the importance of seatbelts, with an emotional advertising campaign sharing the real experiences of Kiwi men whose lives have been saved by belting up. The shocking portraits of the bruises that seatbelts can leave behind after a crash are being celebrated as survival badges of honor.
Liam woke up from a coma the day before his daughter was born. If he hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, he wouldn’t have woken up at all. He’s one of ten young men from New Zealand featured in the ‘belted survivor’ photography series.
Every year, around 90 Kiwis die in motor-vehicle crashes around New Zealand where they weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Faced with an audience that doesn’t see the point of wearing them, NZ Transport Agency had to shift the perception of seatbelts from an optional accessory to a life-saving necessity. In comparison, that number rises to approx. 2500 in the US, according to the NHTSA.
In partnership with VICE, a national call-out gathered hundreds of real stories from people who survived crashes thanks to their seatbelt. Ten were chosen, and using their post-crash photos, their real-life injuries were recreated by the SFX make-up company PROFX. They worked closely with emergency medicine specialist dr. Tash McKay, who provided close medical guidance: “A seatbelt really does leave a mark like this. They will save your life, but they will leave you a mark to show how they’ve done it.”
Their injuries vary, but all ten are united by the mark of their seatbelt: a short-term physical bruise, or sometimes scar, that has had a long-lasting impact on their lives. A physical reminder that they made the right call to wear a seatbelt and survived because of it.
Clemenger BBDO executive creative director Brigid Alkema believes the visceral and authentic nature of the imagery will connect with Kiwi lads.
“You can’t argue with these stories. They’re real experiences, lived by real people. We hope this truth will move our audience to wear their seatbelt.”
The campaign also lives on a dedicated website, beltedsurvivors.nz. It encourages others to share their stories and from those, the campaign will continue to evolve.