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    Daniel Reeders

    Social marketing strategist here. First up, I don’t think this was conceived as social marketing; it was developed by a commercial marketing agency. It was designed, for the highest possible diffusion, to seem more like a cultural product than a health message. But if I had to identify a behavioural basis, I’d point to prospect theory, which Kahneman and Tversky more or less won the Nobel Prize in Economics for in 2002. They argue that we’re substantially non-rational when making decisions under uncertainty — we’re more averse to losses than we are favourable to gains, and we use all sorts of heuristics (mental shortcuts) in calculating likely outcomes. One of the strongest heuristics is mental availability, i.e. how easy it is to recall thinking vividly about a possible outcome of a choice we’re considering. And that’s how this ad is likely to work — it gets us thinking about ‘dumb ways to die’ in relating to public transport. And since it’s such a blood earworm, next time we contemplate crossing the tracks between platforms, we’re liable to end up singing the song in our heads — as mentally available as it gets.

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    Pippa Tandy

    Really irritating animation! Doubt it would make a difference to behaviour for long, even if anyone watched it to the end which I doubt. That’s my unscientific opinion. I loved the tram as a rhino campaign, but that’s just me.

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