Many urban areas in the European Union are experiencing congestion problems, and concerns are growing over air quality and road safety. Governments and local authorities are responding with measures to manage demand, reduce car usage and encourage public transport, walking and cycling. Information and awareness campaigns have an important role in making people aware of the need for change and the available alternatives. However, the evidence suggests that transport specialists have not always made the best use of marketing expertise.
CAMPARIE aimed to collate and disseminate strategies for information and awareness campaigns in the transport sector, based on real-life experiences, in order to provide decision support for future initiatives.
The project has developed a software-based tool that provides information on more than 100 previous campaigns (mainly concerning public transport). It is designed to help practitioners identify experiences relevant to their own situation. The software is complemented by guidelines on the process of designing a campaign.
A survey confirmed that local authorities usually use transport planners and engineers rather than communications experts for designing and running campaigns. Conversely, the professional agencies that are sometimes employed to support such campaigns often have little or no experience of transport-related issues. The CAMPARIE outputs aim to bridge this gap by broadening the knowledge base on both sides
General public awareness campaigns tend to be undertaken by regional and national authorities. Impacts cannot readily be assessed, and a long time period is necessary to obtain reliable results. In contrast, local authorities and operators seem to prefer targeted campaigns and more individualised marketing. This requires some knowledge of user needs, and use of the latest developments in market segmentation techniques, computer applications and the targeted use of incentives.
Six campaigns were used as field applications within CAMPARIE: Dormagen, Leeds, Madrid, Nantes, Thessaloniki and Torino. These included promotion of public transport, car free days and traveller information. Detailed evaluation generated the following insights:
- The success of a campaign is maximised when combined with one or more specific policy measures (such as traffic restrictions or a new public transport service).
- Mixes of measures and mixes of campaigns seem to have an increased effect relative to isolated efforts.
- General awareness campaigns need to be repeated at regular intervals, otherwise they lose their 'power' to influence behaviour. Campaigns targeted on specific groups have stronger and longer-lasting effects.
- Most of the campaigns studied by CAMPARIE can be transferred to other locations, with appropriate adaptation.
CAMPARIE concluded that marketing is not being used to its full potential in the transport sector to support policy-induced changes in behaviour. This may be due to decision-makers not being comfortable with how to design and evaluate campaigns. The consequence is that they are missing a low-cost approach to increasing the impact of high-cost measures.
CAMPARIE found that there is a need to distinguish a campaign coming from a local authority to that of a private enterprise aimed at promoting a particular product or service. Target audiences often discard material that they consider pure advertising, and therefore need to be warned about 'public service' information.
Children need to be addressed by campaigns. It is likely that someone will develop less car-centred travel behaviour and attitudes if their awareness of the issues has been raised from an early age.
For the future, the issue remains as to how to make tools such as the CAMPARIE software available to users and up-to-date. This suggests that future applications of this sort need to be web-based.