Was The ProRail ‘Victim Fashion’ Campaign Too Controversial?

Recently The Netherlands train service ProRail launched a short-lived, controversial campaign to decrease railway accidents. I need to share it with you because it brings up an essential advertising question: When is arguably advertising going to ways? And especially is that this ProRail marketing campaign off the rails?

First, the marketing campaign.

Victim Fashion. Created By Accident.

The ProRail campaign became aimed toward young adults because, no matter preceding PSA efforts, the range of railway casualties in The Netherlands has tripled given that 2016. To attain this elusive target market, a “fashion” emblem became created presenting a duplicate series of torn garb as worn through actual railway coincidence sufferers.

The “Victim Fashion” emblem – promoted underneath the awesome slogan “Created by using a twist of fate” – became hyped by means of influencers and eventually released at a style display in Amsterdam in early April.

The desires for the marketing campaign according to a spokesperson were the following:


Long-time period, closely lessens (we go for the 0 marks) the range of accidents on and near railroad tracks.
Reach 60-70% of the youngsters (elderly 12-18). They are the majority institution of humans loss of life & getting hurt in railroad accidents.
Generate media visibility and social traction – we’ll goal wave makers accomplishing our middle audience: youngsters and all Dutch inhabitants.
The outcomes for the marketing campaign in step with the identical spokesperson:

We surpassed all brief time period criteria inside 1 day.”

Since the campaign handiest released in early April, only time will tell if it saves lives. But the provocative nature of the campaign has some humans questioning whether it’s long gone too far.

Did they absolutely just create a style brand with victims’ garb?

That turned into my first idea, I admit it. It’s worrying to consider. In reality, searching at one of the articles of garb–torn and shredded–definitely brings the viewer nose-to-nostril with the victim in a totally uncomfortable manner. If an image tells a tale, then that torn shirt up there tells a fancy and tragic one. Now consider the effect of these no longer as pictures, however, stay, in man or woman, at the fashion display.

Even simply seeing the snapshots, I cannot help however consider the victim getting hit with the aid of the train. I can not help however visualize the shirt or pants getting savagely mangled. I can not help but reflect consideration on the individual who wore these clothes as all that occurred. What had been they doing? What were they wondering? Did it harm or changed into it over quick?

It’s intimately horrible to the factor you may viscerally feel the message.

So terrible in truth, many called for the marketing campaign to be pulled. And the backlash becomes so top notch the attempt changed into, in truth, quickly pulled. Per the press launch:

After being enthusiastically received by means of the (teenage) target market, the campaign speedy bumped into grievance from the use of a’s countrywide railway operator, the Dutch secretary of infrastructure, and some parents of preceding victims.

Considering all communication objectives were exceeded within hours of the release, ProRail control determined to admire calls for the campaign to be taken offline and keep away from useless misery to those taking offense to the campaign.”

I’m happy the marketing campaign changed into so powerful during the short time it ran, but I  suppose it’s a shame this campaign turned into pulled. Here’s why.

The motives human beings had been offended are the same reasons it worked.

This marketing campaign was powerful as it made humans feel uncomfortable. It forced people to recollect–again, intimately–what it would be like to be mangled in a teach accident.

Was it disrespectful to the sufferers? While I can understand why a person–specially a figure–may think so, I think there may be a higher correct at play right here. In reality, there’s no higher way to recognize a victim than to find a manner for others to research from that victim’s destiny and, in so doing, avoid turning into sufferers themselves.

It’s stunning, yes. But it must be. Shock is this marketing campaign’s primary supply of electricity due to the fact once a person is useless, they’re useless. The chance of a destiny victim lacking the marketing campaign’s message because the creative turned into “too secure” is virtually no longer well worth taking.

I simply wish The Netherlands ProRail and all people concerned rethink their selection to pull this provocative and crucial marketing campaign.

And do so before any other victim is created through twist of fate.

Ashley Stephens

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