Integrated effort steers teens away from bad driving habits

Bridgestone Americas has been involved in teen driver safety for more than a decade. In early 2012 various programs were unified as the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart program.

Bridgestone Americas (Nashville, TN)

DVL Public Relations & Advertising (Nashville, TN) and EEI Global (Detroit)

Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart

February 1-November 10

About $1 million

Bridgestone Americas has been involved in teen driver safety for more than a decade. In early 2012 various related programs were unified as the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart program. DVL Public Relations & Advertising, which has supported the teen driver safety initiatives on a project basis since 2006, helped drive the unified program through its second year.

"Our objective is to make teens smarter drivers and encourage smart-driving behavior," explains Angela Patterson, Bridgestone's manager of community and corporate relations.

The program includes a driving experience that provides classroom and hands-on instruction, as well as online resources.

"We offer different resources for each audience - teens, parents, and teachers - to make the most impact," Patterson adds.

EEI Global handles marketing and PR, the classroom curriculum, and on-site logistics for the driving experience.

DVL relaunched the redesigned in March. It included blogs for teens and parents, content for teachers, and a downloadable safe-driving contract to facilitate dialog between parents and teens.

"We wanted to create a more visual, engaging platform for teens," says agency VP Courtney Eller. "The parent sections have more content, the teen ones have more visuals."

General consumer and teen-focused traditional media and blogs were pitched throughout the campaign.

Students aged 16 to 21, who submitted a short video about safe driving on the website between April 16 and June 20, were eligible to win one of three college scholarships. Company judges selected 10 finalists. After a public vote online, the winners were announced on August 5. The contest was promoted through traditional media and on the Teens Drive Smart Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

CNN got an April 15 exclusive on the contest announcement and results from a YPulse survey of 16- to 21-year-olds about distracted-driving behavior. Parents were also surveyed about their driving habits and results were promoted during National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20 to 26.

Drivers aged 15 to 21 were offered free in-class and on-road lessons provided by pro instructors during the driving experience tour, which visited 12 cities between April and November.

EEI raised awareness of the tour through outreach to local schools, organizations, government units, and media outlets. DVL supported those efforts with geotargeted status updates about the tour on the Teens Drive Smart Facebook page.

"This is primarily a CSR program, but there is a secondary benefit," Patterson says. "We get rave reviews from parents for offering the driving experience for free. The goal is to make the roads safer, and that may push parents to consider buying our products, but we have never made those pitches around this campaign and we never will."

Website visits from January to mid-October hit 252,026, up more than 25,000 compared to 2012. During the same time frame, Facebook engagement jumped 78.3% and Twitter engagement was up 68.3%.

The video contest got 1,807 entries, with submissions from all 50 states for the first time.

More than 1,045 earned placements were garnered in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, and AP. As of mid-October, 2,879 students had participated in 10 driving-experience classes.

Bridgestone plans to expand the program next year and intends to work with DVL again.

PRWeek's View

This is a fantastic, robust program that provides real value to young drivers, parents, and teachers. Unifying and branding the elements and revamping the website was really smart and the program should continue to gain momentum in the coming years. It was also wise to allocate more of this year's budget to social media engagement, as the tactic is and will continue to be key to reaching young people. This team also did a great job of evaluating and adjusting outreach tactics in various markets to drive maximum exposure and engagement.

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