Client: Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America (Cypress, CA) and Mothers
Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
PR Team: In-house at Mitsubishi and MADD, with Fleishman-Hillard and
Campaign: "Pasa Las Llaves" (Pass the Keys)
Time Frame: August 2001-August 2002 (launch in October)
Budget: About $200,000
The American dream can be a lonely one for Latin American
Homesickness, isolation, and cultural machismo drive some to drink - too
much, in many cases.
"After a couple of beers, it is almost unmanly to say you've already had
enough," says Betty Swinners, national diversity coordinator for
In fact, statistics show that traffic accidents are the leading cause of
death for Latinos up to age 24, and the second-leading killer of those
25 to 44.
MADD has long emphasized diversity, and Mitsubishi Motor Sales of
America counts traffic safety and diversity among its highest
Mitsubishi was therefore receptive when MADD proposed a national
Hispanic designated-driver push.
Hispanics would tune out the authoritarian scolding typical of many
traffic safety appeals, says Swinners, so the campaign had to focus on
Latinos' strong family ties by urging them to protect their loved
The pilot campaign began in four cities with concentrated Hispanic
populations: Dallas/Fort Worth, LA, Chicago, and Miami. MADD and
Mitsubishi put together Latino advisory councils with Hispanic community
leaders and journalists in each city to identify relevant messages and
tactics. The Dallas council formed first, and helped develop the theme,
"Pasa Las Llaves" (Pass the Keys).
After issuing a national campaign announcement, MADD and Mitsubishi set
up booths at cultural and community events in the target cities.
Original artwork commissioned by Latina artist Irene Carranza forms the
campaign's centerpiece. The painting features a smiling Hispanic family,
the father's arms encircling two children, with two large hands in the
foreground passing a set of car keys. "This is really the most positive
way to reinforce the right kind of behavior," says Gael O'Brien,
Mitsubishi's corporate communications VP.
The artwork also appeared on key chains and in brochures that explained
DWI laws and penalties in each of the areas targeted. LA chapter
volunteers also produced a short video.
MADD and Mitsubishi plan additional research, but early evidence shows
strong coverage by Hispanic media, including Univision and Telemundo
Coverage was particularly heavy in Dallas, where reporters participated
in the advisory council. Thousands of brochures and key chains were
handed out at launch events.
Luis Lara, a staffer with El Sol de Texas, says the Spanish press
releases on MADD's website were particularly helpful. When a young woman
was killed by a drunk driver in December, Lara referred to the Pasa Las
Llaves campaign in his story.
Local chapters will continue staffing booths at more community events,
and campaign materials will be provided to police officers, emergency
room personnel, and others who come into contact with drunk drivers and
their victims, says MADD media relations director Misty Moyse.
Information about MADD's victims' assistance services is needed,
particularly by new immigrants, says Estella Prettelin, a freelance
journalist who served on an advisory council that helped develop the
Mitsubishi, which is funding the campaign, will closely monitor its
effectiveness to decide whether to expand or continue it next year,
O'Brien says. "We will evaluate it throughout the year to determine if
we're on target, and see if what we're doing is really a good use of the
time and other resources."