SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (KDLT) – Messages like “don’t drink and drive” and “don’t text and drive” are pretty straight forward, but a new public safety campaign seems to be creating some confusion among South Dakotans.
The hope for the slogan and ad campaign, “Don’t Jerk and Drive,” was to encourage South Dakota drivers to be safer on the roads this winter.
But due to some of the reactions the campaign has caused, any advertisements paid for by the Department of Public Safety must be removed.
Micah Aberson, vice president of client service & business development at Lawrence & Schiller, says when thinking about the campaign, he hopes people “keep their cars out of the ditch and their mind out of the gutter.”
Within a week of its debut, the “Don’t Jerk and Drive” ad campaign caused a buzz on social media.
“People are tweeting and facebooking a number of different things,” said Aberson.
While some are posting statements like “Stay the course. Let off the gas. Reenter traffic. Help get the word out,” others are tweeting “South Dakota’s new winter safety campaign is not well thought out.”
Earlier this fall, South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety, Department of Transportation, and Lawrence & Schiller began collaborating, in the hopes of reminding South Dakotans to take it slower on the roads this winter.
Aberson said, “We built the campaign theme and the hash tag to build on the equity that’s in the ‘don’t drink and drive’ campaign message.”
Aberson says the “don’t drink and drive” slogan is very popular, and that they simply replaced the slogan with “jerk,” which is a function they are trying to discourage drivers from doing.
“If I overreact or jerk the steering wheel, trying to make my way back onto the roadway, that’s a dangerous activity that could result in a fatality,” said Aberson.
While Aberson says the campaign has brought a variety of responses, he says the campaign has also had great success so far.
“Just within a week of running, we’ve had 20,000 plus Twitter impressions. Our engagement levels on Twitter are two and three times the industry average,” said Aberson.
But with the announcement of the campaign’s early dismissal, the short-lived message of safe winter driving may not reach as many South Dakota drivers as hoped for.
South Dakota Legislator Mike Verchio spoke with the Department of Safety Thursday afternoon.
The DPS told him that by midnight on Thursday, any advertising paid for by the Department of Public Safety must be taken down.
However, Verchio says it could take weeks for the ad to disappear from social media websites.
Verchio says DPS made the decision to take the ad down.
He says the DPS told him something like this will not happen again, and that they will monitor ad campaigns closer in the future.