The response to “Room to Live” demonstrated the power of testimonial. This was an opportunity to keep the momentum going and address younger audiences. Montana’s greatest injury rate is among 15-29 year-olds, in part because of their low level of seat belt use. Banik was challenged with developing a compelling theme for an exhibit which would feature the crashed vehicle in the “Room to Live” story. We sought to develop an interactive exhibit that would appeal to young visitors while explaining the importance of wearing seat belts—to remain inside a vehicle’s safety cage during a crash—and create more opportunities to show the video to new audiences.
Our solution, “Respect the Cage,” borrowed from the world of mixed martial arts fighting (MMA) to suggest a dangerous environment and the need for a healthy respect of it. As a sport, MMA is wildly popular among the young men and women of the primary target audience. The “cage” motif provided a strong graphic identity which proved to be more edgy and exciting than traditional traffic safety messages. By openly acknowledging young people’s fascination with danger and adventure, we sought to confront the seat-belt usage issue head-on.
A comprehensive Respect the Cage graphic identity and logo treatment were created, then used throughout the display—on vehicle wraps for the trailer hauling the crashed car, on MDT’s seat-belt roll-over simulator and on the pickups which tow both trailers. The interactive traveling exhibit uses multiple tactics to convince the audience seat belts are important and easy to use. Visitors can watch the video, try to predict how a dummy will be ejected in the roll-over simulator, or compete in a “Buckle Up Battle” interactive game designed by Banik.
The exhibit was also an opportunity for peer-to-peer education, an important strategy in reaching young people. MDT recruited college-age interns from two universities and one Indian reservation. Banik’s public relations team provided a two-day training course for the exhibit’s six interns, teaching them public engagement techniques and the facts about seat belt use. They received media interview training and guidelines. The interns were smart, personable and enthusiastic—assets in both the audience appeal and the news coverage obtained for the exhibit tour. These interns ultimately earned the prestigious Governor’s Award for service to the state.
Banik also used public relations to schedule media interviews at the exhibit with MDT director Jim Lynch. News releases went out for each exhibit location and extensive media coverage, especially television, resulted throughout the state. We created press kits for the media which included a news release, occupant protection and impaired driving fact sheets, photos, seat belt myths and the “Room to Live” video.
The exhibit traveled to fairs, rodeos and concerts throughout the summer, where it was seen by as many as 3,000 people a day. Feedback from the public showed a strong positive response, and a significant number of visitors reported the exhibit had changed their minds about seat belts. The exhibit has become a popular request by event organizers, law enforcement agencies and schools around Montana.