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Canadian Safe Boating Council

Visible Personal Flotation Device (PFD) Wear in Advertising - 2011

Visible PFD Wear in Advertising 

Television advertising is not for the financially faint of heart. For a non-profit organization, it’s downright daunting. Still, the Lifesaving Society (Quebec) (or, Société de sauvetage, division du Québec) scored a big hit in 2011 for its ingenious use of humour to promote the wear of PFDs among hunters and fishers in the province. The Canadian Safe Boating Council found they were the hands-down winners of our Visible PFD Wear in Advertising Award.

Quebec has a statistically significant number of hunters and anglers – some 400,000, in fact. Unfortunately, these avid sports folk are also statistically identifiable for their significant number of drownings each year. The season for this particularly at-risk group tends to be in early spring and late fall – times when both air and water temperatures are low; and they’re a difficult audience to reach.

It is for these reasons the Lifesaving Society has long focused its attention on the group, but the challenge was a big one: how to reach them?

Working with Montreal ad agency LG2 and some modest grant funding, the Society produced a most original and impactful ad promoting PFD wear. Then, long-time partner the Fishing and Hunting Movie Tour agreed to incorporate the two-minute video into its repertoire of vignettes from the previous season when touring the province from January through April. As a result, the ad was watched at some 60 presentations to a typical total audience of 35,000 hunters and fishers. That got the conversations started … and sending the ad viral on YouTube, where it has been seen by well over an additional 50,000 viewers.

The ad challenges the ‘tough guy’ image associated with male-predominant anglers, many of whom avoid wearing their PFD for fear they’ll look silly. Facing the camera throughout the ad, the lone actor addresses his fellow sport fishermen from the interior of a log cabin, dressed in fishing gear and PFD … and wielding a hammer. He makes a hilarious but persuasive argument for wearing a lifejacket.

As the Society points out, it’s not enough to bring your jacket on the boat, you’ve got to wear it, too. Studies show that in a full 30% of drowning cases, lifejackets were found in the boat, rather than on the boater. Thanks to ads like this one, perhaps that will change.



Click here for YouTube video.