How a fake pop-up shop helped cut accidents on UK roads

Getting bikers to talk about safety required some lateral thinking from Highways England.

Highways England, the government-owned company responsible for building and maintaining the UK’s roads, has an ambitious five-year target to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on these roads by 40%.

Although motorcyclists account for less than 1% of all traffic, they account for 20% of fatalities and serious injuries in accidents. And while young car drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents than their older counterparts, the picture is different for bikers.

More powerful machines with older riders (aged 35 to 54) account for more than half of KSIs, with accidents peaking in the summer months. These figures suggested that by reaching a very specific audience, Highways England could drive a significant reduction in deaths and injuries.

That audience was, however, resistant to engaging with traditional safety campaigns. To combat this resistance, Highways England worked with adam&eveDDB to create BikerTek, a pop-up shop showcasing precision parts that did a tour of roadshows, biker cafes and the MotoGP at Silverstone last year. Top-of-the-range titanium parts were used to attract the attention of bikers but on closer inspection the parts were actually medical rods and plates used to repair broken limbs after accidents.

Once their interest had been piqued, bikers could talk to a team of bikers who had suffered accidents and were able to talk about safety issues with some authority. The campaign saw more than 2,600 bikers engage in conversations across a series of events, with evidence that safety conversations between riders continued afterwards.

One biker who took part said: “I’ve seen a lot of these type of campaigns in my time, but this is the smartest one yet.”

Getting through to this hard-to-reach audience saw Highways England win the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for branded experiences and events.



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