Work, Insights, OpinionPOSTED December 20, 2019

2019: Calling a truce on Toronto’s deadly streets

SHARE: Twitter Share LinkedIn Share Facebook Share


When I think about what makes a career in communications rewarding, it ultimately comes down to having a great team, working with clients who are willing to take risks and put their trust in you, and creating meaningful programming, to effect real change in the community.

We were lucky enough to meet all these criteria in 2018/19 with our long-time client, RSA Canada, last year. When our client told us in early 2018 that they wanted us to help create a campaign to support the flatlining auto sector, we got down to work quickly. We knew that the most effective way to create differentiation for RSA was not necessarily through a brand marketing campaign, but rather, by exploring the insurer’s corporate social responsibility commitments. Collisions and fatalities were at all all-time high in Toronto, and no one was taking a 360 view of the issue, and bringing together the different user groups – cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.

TruceTO, RSA’s road safety advocacy initiative was launched in 2018 with the intent to fill this very gap.

The simple insight behind this monumental initiative was the need to evolve the road safety conversation beyond distracted driving, driver-blaming and pedestrian-shaming, and instead, addressing the behaviour underlying the increasing collisions on our streets.

As an insurer whose mission is to protect customers from everyday risks, RSA Canada felt compelled to take action towards making our streets safer for everyone. TruceTO put RSA in the position of mediator between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, urging them to show empathy towards each other, and educate themselves on the rules of our evolving streets. The idea was to complement the work being undertaken by the city and a number of advocacy groups around changing road design and infrastructure.

By focusing on bringing down the temperature of the conversation around road safety and equipping all road users with updated, practical information on navigating our evolving streets, the initiative has begun to make its impact in the GTA. Most importantly, TruceTO has managed to avoid any negative media coverage or consumer perception.

The three biggest success factors have been:

  1. Picking a universal cause – Road safety impacts everyone, across age, geography, education level and economic standing. It doesn’t discriminate.
  2. Playing the long game – RSA advocated for more road safety, without treating the initiative as a marketing effort tied to its sales funnel. The insurer understood this was necessary in order to build long-term goodwill with customers.
  3. Integrating the initiative across the company’s operations – RSA didn’t just stop at communicating to its target external audience. We worked with the client to bring employees, partners and brokers into the mix.

Of course, external recognition is the cherry on top. And this campaign has earned a lot of accolades – eight awards to date, in categories including marketing communication, corporate social responsibility and customer relations, including a global Gold Quill Award of Excellence.

Working on the TruceTO initiative with RSA has been a career highlight for me. I am confident that this little campaign has a rosy future ahead, making the GTA a little safer for everyone out there.

Rohini Mukherji is VP, Integrated Communications at APEX Public Relations.

Read more of our favourite work from 2019.