I was recently asked by the Argus Leader, a local newspaper in Sioux Falls, to give my two cents on the controversial South Dakota #DontJerkandDrive campaign. Since then the article has been syndicated out to USA Today and other publications. It seems that I caught the attention of a reporter when I labeled the campaign as "brilliant" on Twitter.
The word on the street is that the State of South Dakota is pulling back on this specific campaign. I can't say I'm surprised. I understood the gamble Lee Axdahl, the Director of the Office of Highway Safety, was taking when he signed on to this marketing strategy.
Bryan Ruby, owner of the web consulting business CMS Report, was impressed with the campaign from a marketing standpoint. Online, he called it "brilliant."
"I thought it was a bold move for the state of South Dakota," Ruby said in a telephone interview. "It definitely requires a sense of humor, and that's the risk you're taking. But if the point is to get the message out, this does it."
For those that would call this campaign a failure, you would be mistaken. Most likely the risks and reactions were understood and expected by Mr. Axdahl and the marketing company behind this campaign, Lawrence & Schiller. In fact, I suspect the folks involved in this campaign would have been disappointed if there had been no reaction from the public. For the first time in my life and countless others included, we visited the website for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. Even if the campaign ends as quickly as it surfaced it has fulfilled its purpose.
On the surface, critics of this campaign may believe "someone is going to get into trouble". Most marketers and social media experts know the opposite is happening. Careers are being made here. And if South Dakota is lucky, lives are being saved the next time a car veers off the state's icy roads.
Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on the author's personal blog, BryanRuby.com.