WorkSafeBC gets its groove on

To reach youth, BC avoids the guts and gore seen in other provincial safety campaigns, and turns to festivals to promote the message through music, buttons and all things '70s.

Workplace safety ads in Ontario and Alberta have been pretty graphic and gory lately, but in a new campaign this summer for WorkSafeBC, Wasserman + Partners wanted to take a groovier route to reach the youth demo. The focus for the ‘Raise Your Hand’ campaign is to let youths know how to recognize on-the-job hazards, how to protect themselves and ideally, how to start a movement – just like those of the ’60s and ’70s.

The campaign, which launched this summer at the Dragon Boat Festival, continues into the fall with campus crawls throughout British Columbia. A branded tent with ambassadors is travelling to festivals like Virgin, asking youths to participate in an anthem contest to create karaoke mashup music videos. Buskers are also located throughout the different events, but rather than asking for money, their open guitar cases have Raise Your Hand buttons for people to take. All advertising material is in bright, psychedelic colours.

The reason they chose an outdoor and digital focus, avoiding traditional media, is because that’s where it’s best to engage with youth, says Pauline Hadley-Beauregard, managing director and VP, Wasserman + Partners, of the 18- to 25-year-old target. ‘We know they’re going to all these festivals and concerts and we know they’re online. We chose to do the campaign where they’re hanging out,’ she explains.

Youth make up 15% of the workforce, and they have the highest rate of injuries. Youth, however, are also going to be the change for the future, says Hadley-Beauregard, and changing behaviours takes a long time.

‘Cultural revival,’ says Liam Greenlaw, CD, Wasserman + Partners, ‘works for most campaigns, and this one especially because we grounded it in music,’ he says of the anthem that anchors the campaign by connecting with the festival-going demo. ‘If we had just done that in print it might not have had the same cachet but…using that anthem as the way to get our message across by having the lyrics is very strategic,’ he tells MiC.

The Wasserman team wanted to go with a positive message, which they feel the target will be more receptive to. ‘I’ve seen so many different spots where people are covered in blood and there’s enough of all of that out there. But by us opening up the conversation, well before that happened it’ll be so much better,’ says Greenlaw.