National Safety Council awards $3.25m auto safety account to Qorvis MSL

The Publicis Groupe firm will explain how consumers should use the new gadgets in their cars safely.

ITASCA, IL: The National Safety Council has awarded Qorvis MSLGroup a $3.25 million contract to handle creative and communications strategies for its upcoming automotive safety technology campaign that will run through the end of 2016.

The nonprofit, in partnership with the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, selected the agency following a competitive review, said Alex Epstein, senior director of digital strategy and content at the NSC.

Qorvis began working on the account in the middle of March, added Epstein. Sheila McLean, SVP and North American corporate and brand citizenship practice leader based in Washington, DC, is leading account work. A core team of 10 to 12 staffers is supporting the business, with additional help on an as-needed basis.

While NSC "entertained proposals from a number of agencies," Epstein said Qorvis stood out because its team understood the campaign’s issues on automotive technology safety quickly and offered intriguing ways to boost awareness. He added that the organization also liked Qorvis’ plan to leverage NSC chief executive Deborah Hersman, formerly chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board.

"[The campaign] is about trying to give Americans a greater understanding of the new active safety technologies in their vehicles," said Epstein. "Too many Americans are not reading their car manuals."

He explained that many drivers don’t know how or when to use some of the new safety technologies in cars, such as the back-up camera, which should be used for assistance rather than in place of old-fashioned defensive driving techniques.

The initiative, slated to kick off this fall, will run through the end of 2016, with the MyCarDoesWhat.org portal debuting even sooner. Yet since auto-safety technology is improving and changing all the time, Epstein said, "There may be a need to continue the project into the foreseeable future."

McLean said Qorvis MSL’s goal will be to raise awareness of automotive safety technologies among consumers and drive them to the website and other resources to learn more.

In addition to media and consumer outreach, the agency is working on digital and social media, as well as some creative and paid elements, she added.

With the paid media components, McLean said the firm plans to reach consumers at the right moment, where "safety and driving is top of mind," such as running digital PSA videos when people are planning a road trip or looking for directions. Qorvis is producing the online PSAs.

MSL will also look at ways to partner with stakeholders and organizations interested in automotive safety, such as car dealers or rental-car companies.

Daniel McGehee, director of the Transportation and Vehicle Safety Research Program at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, is playing an integral research and expert role in the campaign, said McLean.

McGehee’s studies explore how humans and cars interact, and he is doing further research on what consumers know or need to know about new technologies to inform them further. He is conducting a national online study about driver safety that will be incorporated into the campaign.

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