"Street Smart" Public Safety Campaign
Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations
To combat a growing number of incidents on the Bloomington campus, Indiana University wanted to launch a safety campaign that would make students think more about their personal safety and inspire them to take care of each other.
The campaign we created, the Street Smart Party Animals, was largely developed by our student interns and intensely focus-grouped with students before its debut. Deliverables include:
- A Street Smart website that introduces the characters and provides links to safety resources
- A public relations campaign about the initiative and IU’s partnership with local bars and restaurants
- Social media outreach on Facebook and Twitter
- Bus signage
- Print ads in the Indiana Daily Student
- Digital signage
- Promotional materials, including napkins, coasters, and clings
Undergraduate focus groups revealed students were largely unaware of existing safety resources. Some were confused about what action to take when faced with a potentially dangerous situation. And all students were instinctively resistant when they felt they were being “talked down to” by the university.
From these insights, we realized it was important that the campaign feel as though it came from students, not the administration. It needed to be fun and accessible. It also needed to offer concrete advice on making smarter choices.
We faced two primary challenges: How to make sure students would be exposed to our message and how to make sure they would listen.
To reach students in the places where the campaign's messages were most relevant, we went beyond campus bus wraps and ads in the student newspaper and actually went into local bars. We designed special posters and mirror clings to put in the bathrooms, as well as a drink coaster and napkins.
We also launched a social media campaign and gave the four party animals with the biggest personalities their own Twitter accounts. For instance, Fred, a Holstein cow, tweets insider tips about surviving tornado season in Bloomington, special promotional events going on around campus, and more.
To make the campaign accessible, we asked our student design and editorial interns to take the creative lead. That ensured the campaign would speak in the same voice as the audience it was trying to reach.
We needed to use language that was direct and concise, but not preachy. Our interns came up with the idea of having plastic animal figurines pose in dangerous situations.
Enter the Street Smart party animals. The party animals make this campaign more appealing because they're, well, plastic. And cute. But there's substance behind the cuteness, because, no matter how absurd the dilemma the party animals face, there is a clear call to action and a link to the Street Smart website. Throughout the campaign, the Street Smart party animals cover topics ranging from bike safety to suicide prevention.
We chose a low-budget look for the campaign, with plastic figurines placed against plain craft paper backgrounds. The language of the campaign is the same everyday, ironic language that students use. Considering the gravity of the material we were presenting (i.e., sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, STIs), we felt it was important to balance out the campaign's messaging with a lighthearted tone.
We built an accompanying website, streetsmart.indiana.edu, to offer further resources on personal health, social life, campus safety, and mental health.
When the goal of a campaign is prevention, it can be difficult to quantify its impact. It is impossible to count the bike accidents that didn’t happen because someone was reminded to signal before crossing an intersection or the sexual assault that didn’t occur because a student refused to let a friend walk home alone.
What we can say with confidence is that students are aware of the campaign and receptive to its message. Collectively, the Street Smart campaign and its party animals attracted more than 1,000 followers on Twitter in the first two months. During the same period, Street Smart videos were viewed nearly 8,000 times on IU’s YouTube channel. The website was visited nearly 3,400 times; 20 percent of those visitors were repeat users. The party animals’ images receive cheers when they show up at sporting events.
Meanwhile, the campaign is also generating buzz outside the IU community. It has received press coverage in the Chicago Tribune and on FOX59 News and WSBT-TV.
Development of the initial campaign took approximately six months, with new pieces being produced every semester. Total budget for the initial launch was $24,500, including printing costs and media.
Students and university leaders sound off on "Street Smart."
"I think it's a great idea. I think a lot of the problem is people don't know their limits and play into peer pressure a lot."
Josh Stanley, IU Bloomington senior
“I am encouraged that students are relating to this campaign in a positive way and that we are able to promote the various support and emergency services on the Bloomington campus.”
IU Bloomington Dean of Students Harold Goldsmith