Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), through a grant from Metro, called on Sheepscot to develop a traffic safety campaign aimed at people driving near schools and school routes.

We kicked off work in August 2020, five months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout our discovery and development process, Oregon schools continued to operate remotely, and it remained unclear when students would return to hybrid or fully in-person learning.

Informed by research

Prior to enlisting us, PBOT and Metro completed an in-depth study whose findings informed our work. In selecting Sheepscot to design the campaign, PBOT cited our demonstrated ability to develop outside-the-box, creative approaches to successfully engage target audiences.

The project objectives were as follows:

  • Behaviors: Unlike traditional Safe Routes to School communications, our campaign would target speeding and distracted drivers rather than students and parents.
  • Audience: Drivers in and around school zones, including parents and guardians dropping off and picking up students, in addition to drivers under 30 years old.
  • Messaging: The campaign and its call-to-action should be easy to understand. Rather than shaming drivers for bad behavior, PBOT wanted to connect audiences around their shared values and common desire for community health.

Drive like it.

The campaign we developed is kid-forward, friendly and approachable. Photo “stickers” overlaid on abstract backgrounds with unexpected color combinations aim to catch the attention of audiences in social newsfeeds. With unidentifiable streets and intersections, the assets can speak to communities from Gresham to Beaverton, Hillsboro to downtown Portland.

We crafted a full set of social media captions to give schools, districts, cities and counties the building blocks to reach target audiences, with plenty of room to customize to address geographic or timely details—e.g., traffic accidents are up in Portland, students are headed back to school in Forest Grove, keep an eye out at this intersection in Reynolds.

Unpredictability points to a two-phased approach

As our work on the campaign progressed, it became clear that we couldn’t plan our launch around the return to in-person learning. Districts would be starting at different times as, county by county, restrictions lifted. In response, we designed a two-phased approach, launching a broader message in the spring and a more focused, back-to-school message for the fall.

Phase 1 – Kids are everywhere. Drive like it.

Launched on March 22, 2021, just before in-person started up in greater Portland, Phase 1 materials included assets designed for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram posts and stories, email newsletters and even virtual meeting backgrounds. The campaign was developed with accessibility in mind—all of the assets are translated into Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabic, and every file includes translated alt text embedded for screen readers.

Phase 2 – School routes are everywhere. Drive like it.

In August, 2021 students across the region prepared to return to full in-person school for the first time in over a year and traffic accidents including pedestrians were on the rise in the region. Drivers needed to be alert. In addition to a new set of digital assets, Phase 2 included an animated video formatted for Instagram stories, TriMet bus backs and tails, hundreds of lawn signs distributed to each school and a radio PSA.

The #DriveLikeIt hashtag continues to populate on Facebook and Instagram as the campaign organically spreads across the state. Campaign assets have even been shared from Canby to Connecticut and are available for free download in multiple languages via the Oregon Safe Routes to School website.