First and foremost, we’re going to warn you that the video above may not be safe for work, children, or the faint of heart.
It’s from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario’s latest ad campaign. In the video, a young sweet sous-chef with her whole future ahead of her happens to slip on some grease, spilling a vat of boiling water all over herself and horribly scalding her face. While she’s on the floor letting out bloodcurdling screams as the skin on her face peels off in ribbons, a young blond-haired co-worker says the obvious: “There’s been an accident!”
There are more. You can watch a man who happens to love his family as he explodes, flies off a building, and smashes into a truck. Or how about the girl who falls off the ladder onto a coffee table, or the man who gets impaled by steel spikes? All have the same random co-worker screaming “There’s been an accident!” followed by the WSIB’s slogan: There really are no accidents.
We were a bit shocked when we saw these ads on YouTube, but even more shocked when we saw them on prime-time television. WSIB Chair Steve Mahoney said in a recent interview that “We need to shock people into understanding the staggering number of workplace injuries and fatalities,” and added that “This is not going to be a feel good campaign. We won’t feel good until workplace injury and fatality numbers start to decrease.”
Originally, the WSIB had planned on airing the spots only on night-time television. When CBC recently broadcasted the ads during a Saturday afternoon NHL game, however, it prompted extreme reactions from viewers, and the network pushed the ads back to twilight hours. Mississauga Transit recently refused to show the print versions of the ads on their buses because they found them too graphic.
While shock tactics do get people talking, is it really the best way of sending a message? Other shocking ad campaigns for such causes as smoking and speeding have proved effective in North America and all over the world––but with each bloodcurdling scream, with each chunk of flesh we see peeling off, are we not becoming more and more desensitized?
Darrell Hurst, a VP at the ad agency which produced the spots, said in a recent interview, “I don’t think we were going for shock value or sensationalism. For us, it was about painting very real pictures.”
We’ll let you watch, should you so choose, and judge for yourselves.
Thanks to Best Week Ever for the tip.