Snapchat drug-driving campaign a world-first for New Zealand


Kiwi stoners are getting more than they bargained for in a world-first drug-driving campaign using the Snapchat social media platform.

For the past month the NZ Transport Agency has been working with US-based Snapchat on an innovative campaign targeting young New Zealand drug users to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana.

“Drug driving is serious and a growing problem with young drivers in New Zealand and around the world. The problem is that many of these guys don’t want to hear that what they’re doing is dangerous, and they’re experts at tuning out conventional advertising messages,” says Transport Agency spokesperson Andy Knackstedt.

“Our research tells us that many of these drivers actually think they’re safer when driving stoned, because they slow down. But that’s the problem – they may be driving slower, but their reaction times are also a lot slower, and that’s what leads to crashes.”

A new approach was needed to reach an audience that doesn’t want to be reached, so in a world-first for a road safety campaign, the Transport Agency teamed up with Snapchat to set up and seed ‘Tinnyvision’, an account fronted by a likeable group of young Kiwis.

The Transport Agency worked with local website owners to spread the word about TinnyVision and generate interest in the funny ‘stoner snaps’. As the word spread, thousands added TinnyVision as a friend on Snapchat, then over the course of a single day they received a series of video snaps, watching the stars of TinnyVision getting stoned and watching their reactions get slower. After ten snaps the boys head out in the car for some food – the driver reacts too slowly and hits a girl at a pedestrian crossing.

At this point the audience doesn’t know what they’ve just seen, but it looks real and they can’t watch it again – that’s the nature of Snapchat. A few minutes later they get the final snap with the simple written message ‘Stoned drivers are slower to react’.

The video snaps for the campaign were directed by Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle vs Shark), who also filmed the Transport Agency’s award-winning Blazed drug-driving television advertisements which set records on YouTube and has clocked up more than two million views on-line.

The Snapchat campaign has now achieved its initial goal of reaching 7,500 people, and 95% of those have watched the full series of snaps and received the road safety message at the end. Commentary on social media has been overwhelmingly positive, with thousands of likes and hundreds of positive comments.

The Tinnyvision snaps are now being packaged together to be used for cinema advertising and promotion on YouTube from next week.

The compilation can be viewed online here(external link).

Key Facts

Drugs and driving in New Zealand

  • Kiwis are amongst the highest marijuana users in the world. link) 
  • According to the latest Drug Use in New Zealand Survey 2007/2008 (published in 2010) one in seven (14.6%) adults aged 16 to 64 had used cannabis in the previous 12 months. That equates to 385,000 people using cannabis a year link)
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is common: 2 out of 3 cannabis users admit to driving after using.  Click here to read the resource.
  • Drugged driving is a serious road safety issue: ESR figures from a study conducted over 2004-2009 of the blood of deceased drivers, showed one quarter of all drivers and motorcyclists killed in road crashes were found to have cannabis present in their system, with or without other substances.  
  • The Government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy has made drug-driving a priority, aiming to significantly reduce the incidence of drug-impaired driving, with fewer people losing their lives or suffering serious injuries as a result of drugged drivers.

Drug-driving advertising approach

Our drug affected driving campaign is a long-term behavioural change campaign aimed at reducing the harm caused by drugged drivers. Driving under the influence of drugs is common and widespread. In comparison to drink-driving, less is known about the extent of drugged-driving in New Zealand and the impact it has on road safety. A lack of empirical New Zealand research exists. However, some evidence suggests that drugs may be a bigger factor in crashes than officially reported.

Drug driving is a complex issue. Unlike drink driving, safe limits cannot be established and it is difficult to enforce. Because cannabis is also an illegal drug, it is unregulated. All of these issues make it difficult to target people who use cannabis and drive.

Our current campaign targets people who use cannabis. Their own experience tells them that they're okay to drive after using cannabis. Some think the drug has little effect on their driving. They even believe that the drug makes them a safer driver as they feel more focused and drive slower when under the influence. They have never considered their behaviour to be a road safety issue.
For further information on drug-driving advertising click here(external link).

Snapchat - Tinnyvision

This approach uses the fleeting nature of Snapchat messages (they disappear after a specified time) to demonstrate the risk of driving stoned.

The story unfolds over an afternoon as four guys, using the username 'tinnyvision', document themselves getting stoned. They're slow to react and the short Snapchat videos time out after 10 seconds. Things get serious when the guys go out for a drive and, because the driver's reactions are slower, there are tragic consequences.  This is immediately followed by a snap that reads, 'Stoned drivers are slower to react'.
When the last snap is sent, the follower's username is automatically deleted and no personal data is stored by the NZ Transport Agency.  

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For more information please contact:

Andy Knackstedt
Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency

T: 04 894 6285
M: 021 276 3222