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Dancing In The Streets

Rather Than Street Fighting Man

I write to you now having been recently plonked into the invigorating plunge pool that is a new experience and career. I arrive on these marketing shores paddling a makeshift raft of ideas and concepts whilst holding a homemade sandwich, so as to save a few quid. Home and familiarity for me used to be Dublin, and I absolutely loved it. Everything that makes a city great is very much in evidence there. I am sure Dublin is very much the kind of place that Smart had in mind as part of it’s new 2014 brand campaign FOR, which is innovatively and ambitiously looking to enhance the quality of life in the city.

Smart introduce “The Dancing Traffic Lights,” in what is a great campaign. It’s about changing cities for the better, specifically pedestrian safety in this instance. Smart’s research found that 81% more people stopped at the red light, which is a huge increase, and it got me thinking why. With videos of anything and everything getting posted on the internet, all too often of a quite violent and graphic nature, perhaps we are close to hitting the ceiling of shock impact. Clearly road safety is a serious subject, but for Smart to look to improve road safety via fun and communal entertainment is a masterstroke. It certainly elevates Smart beyond being only a car manufacturer. Amongst all the fear-mongering around today, to harness the human spirit’s inherent capacity for joy and mirth is refreshing to see. To turn that into positive social change is genius. We need more fun-mongering. A fun house. Pat Sharp. We need him. He could well be the saviour of all mankind. What’s he doing these days? Well, tell his agent to cancel Panto at Croydon, as this Christmas he is saving the world. Or not.

Somewhat ironically, one of my only complaints about Dublin was the appalling timing of the city’s traffic and pedestrian lights. Countless were the times I would be at a junction and all the lights were red. Pedestrians and drivers would exchange blank expressions as 30, 40 seconds passed. You could have put on a perfectly passable production of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot in some of the vacuous pauses (Or Waiting For GoGo if you like a bad pun). I often wondered if the Irish people’s renowned laid back, easy going nature had somehow got deposited by all the thousands of touches to the crossing buttons and permeated into the working of the lights. No rush. We’ll get there. But I’m sure the Irish would embrace and such an enterprise as the dancing traffic light. Engagement and interaction are the key. Just by making the red man dance changes the perception of what is seen as mundane, routine, and sometimes dangerous.

I think my only problem with this concept is that I have to be exceptionally drunk to dance in public, so the notion of having to imbibe a few sherberts to partake in the crossing of a public highway makes me, and I am sure you, anxious. I have visions of being arrested for jay walking without a dancing licence whilst drunk and disorderly, heralding the arrival of a quite unique urban police charge, the like of which has never been seen before. I’m not sure that this is the kind of innovation that Smart had in mind.

The hashtag WhatAreYouFOR is integral to Smart’s online campaign. This is quite a profound hashtag! We are dangerously close to “what is the meaning of life?” musings. But maybe there is nothing dangerous about that at all. And nothing to fear. I am a step closer to knowing what I am FOR as I start out on a new venture, but we already very much know what Smart are for.

I think my only problem with this concept is that I have to be exceptionally drunk to dance in public, so the notion of having to imbibe a few sherberts to partake in the crossing of a public highway makes me, and I am sure you, anxious

 


 

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23/09/2014

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