Free Public Service Announcement Analysis Essay Sample
Adverts are usually created for a variety of purposes. Some adverts are created to promote a certain product so that it can appeal to customers. Others are created to pass general information to the public, for example about an upcoming event. There are also other adverts that are used to create awareness in the public, and these are more commonly referred to as public service announcements. Adverts of this kind aim to evoke emotions in the target audience in order to appreciate and take note of the main message being passed through the PSA. Therefore, the form of message delivery in awareness PSAs is unique when compared to other forms of PSAs. One example of an awareness PSA that has actually elicited a lot of controversy is one released by the Northern Ireland’s Department of Environment and titled DOE’s Road Safety: Classroom.
This PSA features two sets of participants. The first set comprises a group of kindergarteners who at the beginning of the PSA are packing their bags and tools to go out on a nature study. The kids are then shown in the forest collecting various pieces of nature and watching the ecosystem in action, and they all seem jubilant and excited. Later on, they all sit down on a mat to appreciate the different items of nature that they have collected. The next participant is a young man who moves from his house, gets into his car and starts driving. The man is over speeding and thus, he is unable to negotiate a sharp bend that he comes across and his car flips over and crashes through a brick wall on the road before landing on the group of kindergarten kids who are huddled together. The suggestion is that all die as their hands are depicted lying on the ground lifelessly. This is followed by a voice over that states that since the year 2000, accidents caused by over speeding have killed a classroom of children, and those who speed should essentially be ashamed.
As mentioned, this PSA was created by the Northern Ireland’s Department of Environment. This department is tasked with the role of working in partnership with both the private as well as the public sector to promote the social and economic welfare of the environment. One of the elements that fall under its responsibility mandate is road safety and the department is therefore tasked with the role of promoting safe driving practices and regulating the vehicles and their drivers and all vehicle operators in general. Therefore, the creation of such PSAs on road safety fall fully within its mandate.
However, this PSA created a lot of controversy because of its graphic nature, especially regarding the fact that children were used to portray the graphic content. The Department however tried to defend itself by stating that it used such a graphic and brutal imagery because it was of the opinion that the fear of killing children shown in the PSA would influence some people in the community to stop over speeding. The department hoped to make the PSA as uncomfortable as possible so as to depict the true and horrific consequences of speeding.
There are those who welcomed the graphic nature of the PSA while, in other circles, it was widely criticized. In addition, the question of whether the Department of Environment fully passed the message that it intended is still a contested issue.
All things considered, the PSA by the Department of Environment is highly effective, and the message is passed fully. As it was mentioned earlier, the department is charged with the role of putting in place strategies that promote safe driving practices and general road safety in Ireland. This is aimed at saving human life. Saving human life is paramount, and no sentimentality should be attached to the measures undertaken. In simple words, if certain measures that have the ability to create an awareness in people about safe road practices are available, then the issue of the measures being ‘over the top’ should not matter. The PSA by the Department of Environment does not attempt to sugar coat the horrific consequences of speeding. It shows just how dangerous speeding is.
Road safety has always been a problem in Northern Ireland. The nation’s road statistics are very grim showing that since the turn of the new millennium, the rate of road accidents has remained high. There has particularly been a high rate of accidents caused by speeding, and this could be precisely the reason why Department of Environment decided to focus on this particular issue. The issue of road safety is therefore not a new one and has in fact been withstanding for a long time. It has led to insurmountable number of deaths across the world. Throughout the world, countless people lose their lives due to road accidents with most being caused by human error such as over speeding.
Although the main focus of this article is kids, road safety affects more than just kids. It affects the entire society. Perhaps the emphasis is on kids because unlike adults, kinds are innocent and they are rarely to blame when it comes to road accidents unlike their older counterparts who sometimes make road mistakes that ultimately end up being disastrous. Therefore, road accidents affect the society in general. Road accidents lead to the death of important members of the society. It also leads to the permanent injuring of these society members, some of who become permanently disabled and cannot thus continue contributing actively to economy building. When road accidents happen to kids, they rob the society of bright future minds that could have perhaps revolutionized the way of doing things in this society. Therefore, road safety is an extremely important issue as observed. It is an issue that has plagued the society for a long time, and that deserves to be dealt with immediately so as to prevent innocent lives from being lost in the future.
This PSA is aimed at all drivers in the society. The creators of the PSA clearly aim to appeal to the emotions of the society. It is only by appealing to the emotions of the audience that the message is passed. This appealing of emotions in a piece of art is known as the pathos appeal (Williams and Drolet 344). The makers of the PSA have tried to incorporate a brutal and graphic imagery in order to appeal to the emotion of the audience. There are several steps. The first is the involvement of children.
Children are said to be the light of the world and in the beginning, the children who are very jovial appeal to the happy side of the audience. The depiction of the jovial and happy children makes the audience happy. In addition, the enthusiasm of the children during the nature walk also appeals to the audience whose emotions remain happy. The culmination, however, is when the cars flips and crashes through the wall before finally landing on the innocent children.
The hands of the children that lie lifeless on the ground accentuate the emotion. The makers of the PSA break the hearts of the audience and there is no doubt that many who are deeply saddened when they observe the children lying lifelessly.
The voice-over further adds to the emotional appeal by giving statistics about the deaths of children caused by over speeding. At the same time, the feeling of sadness is accompanied by the feeling of anger. The driver of the blue car that crashed on the children was clearly overspending, and this is what led to the accident. The audience feels angry and wants to in a position to do something; and this to drive slow in order to avoid preventable accidents. This appeal to emotion is considered to be fully appropriate if it manages to pass the intended message (Dillard, James Price, and Eugenia Peck 470). This is the case in this public service announcement.
One element of the film that is perhaps quite interesting and that can be exposed to more scrutiny is the facial expressions that further help to drive the emotional appeal of the PSA. The face of the driver of the blue car that causes the accident exhibits a horrific expression when the he comes across the sharp bend and recognizes that he will be unable to negotiate it. The driver at this instance realizes what he has done, and horror is clearly expressed in his face. The same face is also shown for a split second as the car flips over before the camera rapidly turns to the similarly horrified faces of the children as they realize what is about to happen.
This such an intense scene that clearly appeals to the emotions of most members of the audience who are both angry at the drivers and at the same time saddened by the fate that befalls the children. This is once again one of the reasons why this emotional appeal is effective because it makes the audience think about the situation and establish how they can do things differently (Aaker and Patti Williams, 244)
This PSA is highly effective because it uses the pathos (emotional) appeal to reach out to the audience, create awareness and pass a message that concerns an important issue in the society; road safety (Bagozzi and Moore 6). The PSA does this by using graphic and brutal imagery that creates fear, sadness and anger in the audience and makes them want to take action in regards to road safety and, therefore, preserve human life. Although this emotional appeal is created by using graphic content that may be offensive to some, the final consequence is good because the audience is exposed to the horror of speeding and most members of this audience are likely to take corrective action which is to drive at appropriate speeds.
In conclusion, it is clear that PSAs serve a different purpose. In the PSA described above, the makers appeal to the emotions of the audience by using graphic content. This is, in fact, a common feature in man awareness PSA, and this is no different. At the end of the day, the emotional appeal is effective as it is bound to make the audience want to act differently in order to avert the horrific incidence portrayed in the PSA.
Aaker, Jennifer L., and Patti Williams. "Empathy versus pride: The influence of emotional appeals across cultures." Journal of consumer research 25.3 (1998): 241-261.
Bagozzi, Richard P., and David J. Moore. "Public service Announcements: Emotions and empathy guide prosocial behavior." The Journal of Marketing (1994): 56-70.
Dillard, James Price, and Eugenia Peck. "Affect and persuasion emotional responses to public service announcements." Communication Research 27.4 (2000): 461-495.
Northern Ireland Department of Environment. "DOE Road Safety - Classroom. “YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpjL8bGC1ks>.
Williams, Patti, and Aimee Drolet. "Age‐related differences in responses to emotional PSAisements." Journal of consumer research 32.3 (2005): 343-354.