Interactions between high-speed car advertising and road safety messages Dr Stephen Dann and Dr Susan Dann

Abstract Social Marketing approaches to anti-speeding in Australia have focused on a range of methods of controlling attitudes towards speeding, and influencing behaviour. In early 2002, a series of high speed car advertising campaigns prompted a call for bans on commercial car advertising that glamorised or advocated high speed driving. Proponents of the ban claimed that the advertising influenced young drivers to drive dangerously, and encouraged the high risk driving behaviours. This study was designed to test the impact of adverts for the Holden Monaro and the Holden V8 Symphony advertisement. The study examined a range of attitudes to road safety, including attitudes to speeding, as well as attitudes towards the advertisements, emotional responses to the advertising, and an examination of the belief as to the impact of the advertising on other people. Results demonstrated a strong relationship between personal involvement in road safety and the belief as to the influence of the advertising. Background to the Study The study was conducted in direct response to media attention surrounding the call for self regulation and government control of advertising content. The primary purpose of the study was exploratory, and was based on testing the assumptions of the media regarding the influence of car advertising on drivers. Several of the accusations levelled at the car advertising by the minister were based largely on perceptions of how "other people", namely "young drivers" responded to advertising stimuli. Car advertising is blamed for encouraging aggressive and dangerous driving, particularly amongst young male drivers. In social marketing terms, speed is often cited as the leading cause of accidents amongst young drivers, particularly inexperienced male drivers. Consequently, a large portion of road safety research is targeted towards this particular population (Thorton, Rossiter and White, 2000). Further, the anti-speeding advertising is often depicted in graphic fear campaigns (Thorton and Rossiter, 2001). The purpose of this study was to examine responses to a specific advertisement that was singled out for criticism by the media, Senator Boswell, and other advertising critics - the 2002 Holden Monaro "Game Over" advertisement. In particular, the study examined the relationship between the level of personal involvement in road safety, anti-speeding, and responses to the advertisement. In particular, the study was to designed to explore whether a relationship existed between strong attitudes to road safety, and negative responses to the advertising. Research Questions The research into the influence of the Monaro advertisement was based on exploring four broad research questions. RQ1: Attitudes towards anti-speeding and road safety will influence attitudes towards the Monaro advertising. One concern underpinning the research conducted into the influence of the Monaro advert was whether the advertising was influencing drivers, or whether people with a sensitivity to issues of speeding were prone to being offended by the portrayal of speeding behaviours.

This question was developed as a result of anecdotal evidence in social marketing research regarding former smokers being more prone to opposing smoking advertising than nonsmokers. RQ2: Age and gender will be significant factors in determining attitudes to road safety RQ3: Age and gender will be significant factors in determining responses to the Monaro advertising Based on analysis of previous social marketing road safety campaigns, age and gender should have a significant impact on attitudes towards road safety, and towards the Monaro advertising (Thorton, Rossiter and White, 2000). RQ4: Belief in the realism of the advertising will influence the extent to which the respondent believes the advertising influences others. This research question was included to assess whether respondents who believe the advertising portrayed ordinary or realistic driving behaviours would regard the advertising as more influential than those who regarded the behaviours exhibited as unrealistic. The Study Personal Involvement with Road Safety Attitudes towards road safety and seat belt usage were examined using five items derived from Zaichkowsky's (1985) Personal Involvement Inventory and Leavitt's (1970) Reaction Profile. Zaichkowsky (1985) defines involvement as the individual's perceived relevance of an object or person, based on inherent needs, values and interests. Involvement in this context is applicable to advertisements, products and adoption decisions (Zaichkowsky, 1985). Leavitt's (1970) profile was designed to measure emotional reactions to advertising. Items were drawn from Leavitt's (1970) sub-factors of "personal relevance" which included the three items of "important to me", "meaningful to me" and "worth remembering". The remaining two items, "accessible to me" and "relevant to me", were derived from Zaichkowsky's (1985) work. The five item road safety scale returned an alpha of .8863, and .8773 for the anti-speeding involvement scale. Arousal Emotional responses to the advertising were assessed using a seven item, five point semantic scale measuring arousal responses to the Monaro advertisement (Simpson, Horton and Brown 1996). The seven items measured were stimulated / relaxed, excited / calm, frenzied / sluggish, aggressive / passive, aroused / unaroused, wide-awake / sleepy, and interested / bored. The items " aggressive / passive" and "interested / bored" replaced the "jittery / dull" item used in Simpsonet al (1996) study. Alpha for the arousal scale was .8313, which was below the previous study (.96), but above the standard measure (.8) for marketing scales. Impressions of the Advertising Kamp and MacInnis (1995)'s three item scale assessing attitudes towards advertising was used to determine the extent to which the consumer likes the advertising, with an alpha of .8884. Influences of the Advertising

The remaining nine questions in the survey were developed for the study, and assessed the impact of the advertising on the individual, the individual's belief as to the influence of advertising on others, and the extent to which the respondent believed the advertising was realistic. Self Assessed Influence of the Advertising Items 4, 6 and 11 were measuring the internal influence of the advertising on the respondent. These items were developed for the survey, and are based on the extent to which the respondent will self identify as being influenced by advertising.
M 4. To what extent do you feel like you drive like the drivers seen in the advertising? M 6. Do you believe that you would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result of this advert? M 11. Do you believe this advert will affect how you drive?

Influence of Advertising on Others The second part of the influence of advertising were five items assessing the respondent's perceptions
M 5. To what extent do you feel that others would copy the driving seen in the advertising? M 7. Do you believe that young males viewing this advert would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result? M 8. Do you believe that young females viewing this advert would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result? M 10. Do you believe that these types of adverts encourage safer driving? M 12. Do you believe this advert will affect how other people in the community will drive?

Items 5,7,8, 10 and 12 were designed to examine the extent to which respondents projected the influence of the advertising on other people. Representative Nature of the Advertising
M 9. Do you believe that these types of adverts are representative of how people drive?

The final question developed for the survey examined the extent to which the sample believed that the driving presented in the advertising was representative of reality. This question was included for two reasons. First, it examines the perceived realism of the advertising, and second, was used to address Research Question 4. Demographics The final section of the questionnaire examined the age, gender and ethnic origin of the respondents. The purpose of these measures was to determine if there were different reactions to the advertisements by age, gender or ethnicity. Two question regarding where the respondent held a driver's licence, and drove regularly, were included in the demographics. Methodology Respondents were given a preliminary survey to examine their emotional state using the Simpson, Horton and Brown (1996) Arousal scale. After collection of this scale, respondents were shown the first of the two advertisements, the Monaro "Game Over" advertisement. They were then instructed to complete the first half of the survey, consisting of the arousal scale, attitudes to the advertisement, and the influence of advertising measures. Respondents were then shown the second advertisement, Holden "V-8 Symphony", and respondents completed the second half of the scale, including demographic data.

The sample consisted of 103 university students, with a gender balance of 40:60 male:female. The sample also consisted of slightly more than 50% Australian students (50.5%), with a large Asian population (40%), with European (7%). Whilst "Asian" does not exist as a distinct subpopulation, the study was more concerned with addressing a whole population sample, rather than examining independent national differences. Results of the Survey RQ1: Attitudes towards anti-speeding and road safety will influence attitudes towards the Monaro advertising. RQ1 was examined by correlating individual items of the road safety and anti-speeding involvement scales, indicated in Table 1. Table 1: Correlations between Road Safety Items and Attitudes to the Advertising
M 4. To what extent do you feel like you drive like the drivers seen in the advertising? M10. Do you believe that these types of adverts encourage safer driving? M 12. Do you believe this advert will affect how other people in the community will drive? * significant at 0.05 RS Important -.228* -.207* RS Relevant

.199*

No other items returned significant relationships. Accessibility of road safety was found to have a negative correlation with the belief that the advertising influenced young women to drive dangerously, although this is difficult to explain. In effect, the more a person found road safety to be an accessible part of their life, the less they felt that women would drive dangerously from seeing a Monaro advertisement. This item has been discarded as a spurious correlation. Table 2: Correlations between Anti-Speeding Items and Attitudes to the Advertising
M 7. Do you believe that young males viewing this advert would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result? M10. Do you believe that these types of adverts encourage safer driving? M 12. Do you believe this advert will affect how other people in the community will drive? * significant at 0.05 AS Important .233*

-.208* .199*

RQ2: Age and gender will be significant factors in determining attitudes to road safety Neither age nor gender proved to be a significant factor in the majority of the responses concerning road safety or antispeeding. One item, the accessibility of road safety, was significantly different between the genders, with female respondents regarding it was more accessible (3.80) than male counterparts (3.60) (t=-.697, p=.01) RQ3: Age and gender will be significant factors in determining responses to the Monaro advertising Surprisingly, only age proved to be significantly correlated with one item - the extent to which the respondent felt positively towards the advertising (r=-.205, p=.043), indicating that

older respondents felt less positive towards the advertising. From Holden's perspective, this is a positive finding for the advertising, given that the advert was targeted at a younger demographic. For social marketing, the message was possibly inconsistent with established stereotypes of the target market - it would have been expected that the advertising (fast driving in a futuristic video game) would have greater appeal to male respondents. However, no significant gender difference was found on any measure. RQ4: Belief in the realism of the advertising will influence the extent to which the respondent believes the advertising influences others.
M 7. Do you believe that young males viewing this advert would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result? M 8. Do you believe that young females viewing this advert would be influenced to drive more dangerously as a result? M 11. Do you believe this advert will affect how you drive? M 12. Do you believe this advert will affect how other people in the community will drive? ** significant at 0.01 * significant at 0.05 M 9. Representative advertising .315** .232* .274** .396**

The results for RQ4 confirm the hypothesis that those people who believe that the portrayal of the driving in the advertising is realistic believe that this type of advertising will influence people to drive dangerously. Of concern here is the fact that the advertising represents a video game conducted in a hyper-real environment. Whilst space precludes an indepth analysis, this raises an area for further research regarding advertising realism, advertising fantasy and perceived influence of advertising. Conclusions and Further Research Perhaps the most influential result in this exploratory study was the discovery of the relationship between involvement in a cause (road safety, anti-speeding) and the belief in the power of the advertising message. From this preliminary study, it appears that further research is needed to discover if there is a propensity for individuals who are highly involved in a social marketing area to over-react to related stimuli. Issues of top of mind recall, risk perception and involvement will need to be examined across a range of social marketing causes in samples of social marketers and non-social marketers. The importance of pursuing such research is to examine whether measures that are proposed by social marketers are aimed at reducing risk to the target market, or alleviating the personal concerns of the social marketer. The key to the success of social marketing is developing interventions that are based on the needs of target market, rather than being expert driven solutions (Andreasen 1994). The second major issue to arise from the study is the relationship between the perceived 'realism' of the advertising and its perceived effectiveness on a vulnerable target market. As evidenced in this study, where the respondent felt that the advertising was representative of how people drove in real life, they believed that the advertising was capable of influencing the behaviours of others, including their own behaviour. Further examinations of the influence of perceived realism may assist social marketers in creating social marketing campaigns targeted at minimising the impact of advertising messages such as those found in the Monaro advert. For example, if the target market is found to believe that the dangerous driving in the advertising is realistic, social campaigns should be targeted towards re-educating the population that the advertising is not a reflection of reality.

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