Multilingual Business Communication

April 8, 2009

Infrabel campaign hits like a train

Filed under: business communication, marketing communication — Tags: , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:22 pm

Since the end of March 2009, we are being confronted with Infrabel’s new sensitizing campaign. The shocking effect of the visuals causes a lot of discussion. Is it really necessary for this kind of campaign to contain such horrid images?

Infrabel campaign

The shocking Infrabel videos seem to follow a trend in the sensitizing government campaigns created to reduce the traffic toll. Billboards asking how many children have to die before we start driving slower are normal practise. But are shocking visuals more effective than a more neutral sensitizing campaign? We all know that the more one gets to see a certain image of cruelty, the more one starts to take this for granted. We are all convinced that horror does not happen to us. We tend to look away.

I have often crossed the level crossing before the sign tells me I can. Nothing ever happened. This might put me on a par with smokers denying that their lungs look like the ones on packets of cigarettes. Yet I also need to admit that I thought twice before ignoring the light signs after I saw Infrabel’s video. Will I ignore them again, though? Probably.

So the question remains if shocking campaigns really are effective. I tend to answer negatively.



  1. That’s shocking Lore! And I’m not talking about the ads shown on television, I think those are good ads, reminding people of the dangers when crossing a railway inattentively. I don’t even find the current ad shown on television too hard. It’s plain and simple reality they’re showing, without even going too far into details. Maybe, just maybe, people will think twice before ignoring those lights and maybe one day, that one person, who decides not to cross, saves his life in not doing so. That’s what makes it all worth it. That’s what gives these types of ads right of existence.
    No, to me it’s quite shocking you would still choose to ignore the light signs! What’s more important, the one minute of your life you gain by crossing the railway a little too soon, or your entire lifetime which is at stake in doing so? If the ad can’t convince you, I truly hope I can.

    Valérie Debrauwere

    Comment by meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie — April 9, 2009 @ 6:47 am

  2. The Infrabel media campaign reminds me of the debate on the legislation that obliged tobacco companies to depict the consequences of smoking on the cigarette packs. Research of the university of Maastricht has shown that this visual approach in order to convince people to stop smoking was not effective at all. However, as there were 28 fatal accidents at level crossings in 2008, I believe that it is good that people are made aware of the danger.

    Comment by Elisa Van Peteghem — April 9, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  3. I also noticed this advert in the railway station and in magazines. The main reasons why I considered this image to be alienating were:

    1 It is a very dramatic picture indeed

    2 I wondered whether it was really necessary to start a campaign with such an emotional message about a problem that seems to me rather marginal.

    To be able to accept the message, I needed something like numbers, to prove the urgency of the campaign. These were not on the poster advert. Whether they were on the TV commercial, I do not know, for I never saw it.

    Comment by Ankie Dees — June 10, 2009 @ 4:58 am

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