TV channels don’t want brutal ads

Russia’s major state-run channels say they won’t air new public service ads against road accidents, calling them ‘brutal’ and too ‘naturalistic’, reports the Vremya Novostey daily edition.

French director Erick Ifergan admits that the Russian commercials are crueler than the ones he shot for Italy on the issue of road safety. He noted, though, that the gruesomeness shown in the ads is not an end in itself, but a means to express and evoke emotions in people – ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of road accidents and, consequently, casualties.

But French writer Frédéric Beigbeder says the Russian clips are far less naturalistic than British commercials, which even feature the sound of breaking bones.

Production agency “YesTasteWinNow” says it has studied Western campaigns and concluded that ‘bloody’ plots are far more frequent in Europe than in Russia. And it says the result –a far lower injury rate in Europe – only proves their efficiency.

Judge for yourself

The clips shot for the Russian campaign are certainly not intended to leave anyone feeling indifferent.

In one commercial, a young man and his girlfriend are driving in a car. The man, who is at the wheel, looks aside. A truck then crashes into the car. “He was lucky. He died immediately,” recalls the girl, not paralyzed and in a wheelchair from the accident.

Another one features a quiet evening within a family circle.

The father kisses his wife and daughter goodbye. He leaves through the window and falls on the ground. The final slogan says, “a crash at a speed of 50km per hour is the same thing as falling from the 10th floor.”

Another ad is more suggestive. Set in an ordinary Russian office block with people going about their business.

All is as normal, apart from the groundless aggression. A man slaps a woman with his elbow when she accidentally touches his on the shoulder. She faints. Another office employee overtakes his boss and gets a severe beating.

“This is a classic metaphor,” says the agency’s art director Maksim Fyodorov. “It is generally thought unacceptable to strike a woman. But on the roads it is a common sight, when a man trying to overtake a woman causes an accident – and the consequences are often far more serious than those from a slap in the face. We want people on the roads to see people around then, not cars.”

Vremya Novostey also quotes another top manager of the agency, Andrey Salov:

“I’ve shown our work to many people and none of them has perceived it as a call for violence.”

Unlike the major networks, a local TV station in St. Petersburg agreed to broadcast the commercials. Talks are also underway with other regional TV companies to air the public service ads.

Gruesome statistics

Statistics show that in the last ten years, there were around 2 million road accidents in Russia, in which 300,000 people died and 2.2 million were injured.

In the beginning of 2008, the government implemented new road regulations imposing stricter punishments violating road rules.

A special report brought before the State Duma this week reveals the measures are proving efficient. Last year saw a 13% reduction in road accidents compared to 2007. Consequently, the amount of those killed and injured fell by 6.7 per cent and 12.4 per cent respectively.