This Road Safety Campaign Is Filled With Gratitude Instead of Gore

All the thank-you's you'll never hear

Road safety ads are studies in what-ifs, usually brought to the most extreme negative conclusion. (Hello, Red Asphalt!) 

With that in mind, there's a refreshing quality to this quiet work from France's Road Safety Organization. They have released a campaign by (hold your breath!) Serviceplan France, Babel and Madame Bovary, who will manage the client's TV, radio and communications strategy together in 2020.

"We All Have the Power to Save a Life" features two ads so far. Here is "Marc."

Sécurité Routière | Marc

The work is focused on a driver named Lise. Marc, the narrator, addresses her directly: "Thank you for not driving too fast on this country road this Sunday morning. Otherwise, on that bend, you would have come too fast on our group of cyclists, and you would have knocked me down and killed me." 

Marc closes his eyes. A screech of brakes cuts the scene at this moment, and we wait for the artful detritus. 

Except it doesn't come. Instead we return to Lise, turning prudently around that bend. Marc is close enough for them to meet eyes, but the camera's eye wisely doesn't cash in on that moment; it wouldn't feel real. He is merely a blur to her, but one close enough for an imaginary passenger to touch.

"Thank you, Lise, for saving my life and allowing me to raise my two daughters," the narrator concludes.

"Lea" follows the same formula. This time it's a young child, Lea, clutching her backpack in the middle of the road and thanking Yanis. If he had picked up his phone while driving (though he clearly wanted to), he would have missed seeing her cross the street. 

Sécurité Routière | Lea

We can imagine what would have happened next; we've seen it thousands of times in thousands of other ads. But as with Marc, that isn't the timeline we're driving down. Lea can go about the business of growing up, with nary a shadow of what could have been. 

The French Road Safety Organization is good at punting poignant. Last year it gave us "The Road of My Life," whose narrator reflected on a road that served as the adolescent backdrop for him and his friends, who've just had an accident there. (Bleak! But poetic.) This followed a balletic series of ads that explored collisions, and their consequences, in excruciating detail.

So while the emotional impact of "We All Have the Power to Save a Life" isn't new, the angle is. That terrible thing you expect to happen never does. What you get instead is heartfelt gratitude, a couple of thank-you's said out loud to represent all the ones that will never be heard and never be spoken between people who will never meet … because life, fortunately, went on. 

A new tagline, "Living Together," will replace "All Responsible," which the French Road Safety Organization has used for over 10 years. The goal of "Living Together" is the same—galvanizing a sense of community care—but it lacks the blamey fangs of its predecessor. "Living Together" lifts guilt away and aspires instead to benevolence, something clearly felt here.


Client: Sécurité Routière
Agencies: Babel + Madame Bovary + Serviceplan
Campaign: "On a tous le pouvoir de sauver une vie"
Title of films: "Léa" et "Marc"
Director of Creation and Operations: Pascal Couvry
Creative Director: Daniel Perez
Artistic Directors: Astrid Pinon, Tram-Anh Nguyen, François Lesaint
Copywriter: Chloé Rosiaux
Client Managers: Emmanuel Barbe, Laurence Derrien, Laurence Dudal, Laetitia Moch, Jean-Yves Mathurin
Agency Managers: Eric Zajdermann, Pascal Couvry, Stéphane Perrot
Commercial Managers: Jeanne Delbard, Anabelle Cornillon
Director: Wilfrid Brimo
Production House: Grand Bazaar
TV Producer: Trinity - Frank Willocq
Media Agency: Carat (Dentsu Aegis Network)

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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