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Two influencers to return road safety campaign fees after wearing seatbelts incorrectly

The RSA used 10 influencers in a campaign last year – but won’t be using any this year.

Source: RSA Ireland/YouTube

TWO INFLUENCERS ARE to return fees paid to them for a campaign run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) after being seen wearing their seatbelts incorrectly.

The pair were among 10 influencers who had been paid a combined total of €26,138 to take part in the campaign. The €26,138 was spread between the 10 influencers and was paid through a media agency.

The RSA contacted the two influencers in the last month to ask them to either return their fee or pay it to charity after it emerged they had worn their seatbelts incorrectly – a year after taking part in the campaign, called Killer Look, which aimed to get people to wear their seatbelts correctly.

The RSA ran the campaign in order to draw attention to people wearing their seatbelts under their arms.

A study of 300 women aged 17 to 34 undertaken in 2016 by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the RSA found that:

  • 28% admitted to misusing a seatbelt by wearing it under the arm, rising to 35% among younger women.
  • 53% of those interviewed said that their friends wore the seatbelt under the arm
  • The main reasons cited for wearing the seatbelt under the arm were to relieve neck tension (49%) and for general comfort (47%).
  • 9% said it was to protect their tan, or 7% to protect clothing.

An RSA spokesperson said that the 10 influencers took part in the campaign in February 2017 but a year later were “seen and reported and engaged in activities they really shouldn’t have been doing”. The RSA then contacted the two influencers involved asking for an apology and for donations to be made to charity or their fee repaid.

“We are not just an ordinary commercial brand selling a product,” pointed out the spokesperson. “We are a State agency and invest in not-for-profit marketing trying to promote a health issue.”

Complaints

It’s understood members of the public contacted the authority to ask how much the influencers were being paid for their parts in the campaign. The RSA told TheJournal.ie it has also received complaints in relation to bloggers/influencers driving while filming for social media.

In recent months, an Instagram page called Bloggers Unveiled has been drawing people’s attention to the behaviour of influencers while driving by sharing videos and images.

In a statement this week, the RSA said:

Our message is clear. Don’t use a mobile phone – for any reason when you are behind the wheel of a car. This applies to situations while driving or when stopped in traffic. Similarly, seatbelts should always be worn correctly – there is no excuse. There is never an acceptable time when seatbelts shouldn’t be worn or a time when it is acceptable for them to be worn under the arm. Bloggers and influencers have an added responsibility, as people in positions to influence the behaviour of others, to set a good example and demonstrate the correct behaviour.

Irish Seat belt campaign Source: PA Archive/PA Images

The RSA has previously used parent bloggers for campaigns on travelling with children in cars, and that campaign ”worked extremely well and we were thrilled with results”, said the spokesperson. They pointed out that the seatbelt campaign was “hugely successful” and recently won an award.

The RSA does not want the behaviour of the two influencers to distract from the success of the seatbelt campaign.

“We are trying to get across the message wearing a seatbelt under the arm, it happens a lot more than people think,” said the spokesperson. “There are serious consequences for people and it is predominantly women who do it. What we don’t want to have is people normalising that behaviour. That’s why we were disappointed. The vast majority of the influencers were brilliant. They saw this as more than a commercial exchange.”

The RSA promotes its campaigns through a number of means, including online, on TV, in print and on radio.

The campaign evaluation for Killer Look showed “the message really hitting home” with people, said the spokesperson.

They said the influencers’ behaviour was “regrettable”.

The RSA decided to use influencers as part of its aim to reach more people with its campaigns. “We knew there were risks going down this route but decided it was a risk worth taking because the rewards were so high if we were able to target such a high number of people, especially women in the 18 – 40 age category,” said the spokesperson.

The RSA has no plans to work with influencers for campaigns this year, and is currently in the early stages of planning its next big campaign. “If [influencers] came up as a potential option in a future campaign we wouldn’t say no,” said the spokesperson. They said that there is an ongoing discussion industry-wide about influencers and a code of practice related to their use.

“There’ll be a lot more rigour around and due diligence done around influencers if they are being used in future,” the spokesperson said. “This medium is maturing.”

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland recently launched additional guidance for bloggers and influencers in an effort to clarify exactly what counts as a ‘marketing communication’ online.

The biggest RSA campaign this year has been its one on overtaking cyclists, and the spokesperson said it is “extremely concerned” at how many cyclists have been killed on Irish roads this year. Six cyclists have died in 2018 so far, compared to four during the same period in 2017.

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