As part of its ongoing effort to educate and motivate everyone on North Dakota’s roadways to follow the law and observe best practices, the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s (NDDOT) Safety Division sought assistance with its statewide media services to develop and implement a comprehensive media plan targeting appropriate populations, locations, and time periods. The work included paid media campaigns, social media engagement and media relations and supporting collateral materials. The focus of the efforts included, but was not limited to, impaired driving, occupant protection (seat belt and child passenger safety), distracted driving, and motorcycle safety. All media services efforts supported state and national traffic safety and other traffic safety campaigns, programs and activities.
Odney was hired in 2016 as the media services contractor to enhance the division’s public outreach and education through paid media (TV, radio, digital advertising, paid and social media), earned media (organic social media, media relations, and community outreach) and to create collateral elements.
Our strategy was to efficiently and effectively use the funds allocated to each program area to their fullest, ensuring maximum reach and frequency to educate and influence NDDOT’s target audiences using clear and concise messaging. This was done using a variety of data resources to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Overall, our primary focus was on crafting media campaigns to reach our target audiences using mediums they consume with effective messaging. Because federal regulations and state enforcement periods dictated much of the paid media placement parameters, we chose to layer the campaigns across multiple channels to maximize the exposure of each, while not infringing on subsequent campaigns.
The division’s existing “Code for the Road” brand was determined to have low awareness and messaging within the brand, its “Rules for the Road” theme, was often confusing. Therefore, for 2016, we recommended focusing messaging solely on the enforcement topic, eliminating extra information for the target audience to absorb. Consistent and comprehensive messaging was carried through for all paid media, web copy, talking points and stakeholder information.
Moving into 2018, we helped NDDOT partner with the North Dakota Governor’s Office, Department of Health and Highway Patrol in the announcement of the launch of a multi-agency approach to traffic safety called Vision Zero. This initiative replaced “Code for the Road” with a loftier, more robust focus that leans on the fact that there is no acceptable number of deaths on our roads, and there are no excuses for not following the law. The multi-agency approach also gives more credence to the initiative, ensuring motorists and passengers hear and see the same message about traffic safety, regardless of the source.
The transition to Vision Zero included messaging, a new website, social media handles, and talking points.
In addition to these central tactics, Odney also worked with the NDDOT Safety Division to conduct research on message testing, develop new creative for its impaired driving and occupant protection media campaigns, revamp its stakeholder newsletter, launch a statewide virtual reality learning opportunity for K-12 schools or other organizations, and more effectively use its organic social media channels to improve engagement.
Our media campaigns have earned impressive results for Odney and NDDOT, including a bronze Telly award, two Gold ADDYs, two Silver ADDYs, and a Best in Public Service Award for two separate advertising campaigns. The People's First Award in Public Service, the highest category in public service, was given to NDDOT for two separate impaired driving TV advertisements at the ADDYs. NDDOT also won two American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) awards for their annual Crash Summary publication and impaired driving PSA for the impaired driving media campaign.