In 2017, Toyota asked us to bring their new brand positioning – ‘Built for a Better World’ – to life in a meaningful way. Building a better world left us with an extremely wide remit, so, from a strategic point of view, how did we decide where to start? After a period of research and consultation with the Road Safety Authority, we settled on an ambitious goal: tackling the serious real-world problem of driver distraction caused by mobile phone use. From there, we leveraged cutting-edge behavioural science, studying the latest research on why people continue to use their mobile phones while driving – and the most effective ways of producing long-term behavioural change. We arrived on three principles which would underpin our solution:1. Comms alone wouldn’t be enough to change people’s behaviours on this issue 2. Rewarding positive behaviour is more effective than punishing negative behaviour 3. Keeping mobile phones faced down is the safest thing for drivers to do.
Now that we knew a conventional marketing campaign alone wouldn’t be enough to change people’s behaviour, we needed a more creative solution. We needed to gamify it. And the FaceItDown app was born. We conceived and built the app based on one key design principle (based on research from Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab) for using technology to reinforce positive behaviour change: keep it simple and specific to a single behaviour. The software was able to tell when someone faced their phone down while driving and, crucially, was available to every driver on every phone. Thanks to each phone’s in-built accelerometer and GPS, FaceItDown could sense motion and distance travelled, and the internal gyroscope allowed it to know when the phone was placed (and remained) in a screen-down position. We then created a system within the app which allocated users points for each kilometre they drove without interacting with their phone.
Finally, we partnered with Topaz, who provided free cups of coffee at their service stations for drivers who had reached a certain number of points. Now we had our solution, but we still had to tell people about it. So, we created a national movement, asking people to tackle this national epidemic by facing their phones down and making our roads safer for everyone. We recruited Irish influencers and people who’d lost family to distracted driving to become our social ambassadors and a national radio campaign that targeted drivers to encourage and reinforce positive behaviour. We also kept the conversation on safer behaviour going with social and in-app updates to spark conversation about the nation’s collective achievement. The results were emphatic. We have achieved 41,127 total downloads of the app to date, with users driving 10,961,805km while facing it down. But it hasn’t stopped there. With Toyota’s support, we have continued to refine and develop the app, incorporating user feedback and real-world testing to create a product that will continue to make Irish roads safer for everyone.