tintinnabular (tintinnabular) wrote in ontd_political,

Australian Government's 'Don't Be a Dickhead' Campaign Takes Aim at Gingers, Emos

A ROAD safety campaign that calls young drivers ''dickheads'' for talking on their phones and not wearing seatbelts while driving has been slammed as inappropriate and divisive.

The series of online advertisements was launched yesterday, one day after Australian formula one driver Mark Webber said road rules were turning Australia into a nanny state.

His comments followed Friday's arrest of racing star Lewis Hamilton - who Roads Minister Tim Pallas yesterday labelled a ''dickhead'' on radio - for hoon behaviour.

The launch capped off a horror weekend on Victoria's roads, with an injured motorcyclist yesterday becoming the sixth person to die and boosting this year's road toll to 79, 10 higher than this time last year.

The new ads, which the government hopes will be viewed on YouTube and other online forums before being spread across the internet, warn young drivers ''don't be a dickhead''.

In one of the advertisements, a voiceover tells teenagers that every time they use mobile phones and drive, ''gingers get fresh with other gingers'', while showing two redheads in bed.

Another ad says that using a mobile while driving will cause an ''emo'' to be born.

Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh criticised the ads, saying the language could easily be copied by young students.

''We're very much looking at the English language and using [it] in the best possible way … for the young generation. We're trying to raise the bar and this doesn't help,'' Ms Leigh said.

''It has certain unpleasant connotations involved.''

She was backed by federal Family First MP Steven Fielding and state opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder, who said the campaign was at odds with the government's ''respect'' agenda.

''How on earth can you align this with a respect agenda?'' he said. ''It's hard enough now for teachers to get the message through to students.''

Mr Pallas said young people used this kind of language and incorporating it was the best way to get the safety message across.

He denied the grand prix was at odds with this message and said young people were massively over-represented in the road toll, something he would not apologise for campaigning against.

''There's no point talking to people at a level they're not interested in,'' he said.

''Some of our [campaigns are] more about talking to ourselves on occasion than it is about making sure those messages are getting out to the community. This is the language they and their peers use.''

Onion Communication managing partner Richard Patterson said the campaign tried to be edgy but risked turning the issue into a joke because young people would laugh rather than empathise with the situation.

The government said yesterday the campaign cost $100,000, a fraction of the $47 million it paid to host the formula one race last year.

Despite the horror weekend on the roads, Mr Pallas, Deputy Police Commissioner Ken Lay and Australian Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker all said they did not think the race encouraged hoon driving.

The $150,000 Mercedes impounded after Hamilton was caught was picked up yesterday from a Preston yard by businessman Peter Bartels.

Mr Bartels said last night he did it as a favour for a friend, McClaren boss Ron Dennis.

Tags: advertising, australia

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