GHSO ready to try again after failed ad campaign

The Governor’s Highway Safety Office is ready to try again after abandoning its most recent advertising campaign amid charges that it was sexist and silly, according to The Tennessean.

The state last week announced it’s seeking a contractor to “procure media marketing/advertising for the design, production, reports and administrative reconciliation services” to assist the Governor’s Highway Safety Office’s efforts to educate the public about highway safety issues, among other objectives. The move is called a Request for Qualifications, or RFQ.

The move comes on the heels of the office apologizing for an anti-DUI campaign and subsequently taking down a part of its website in July after coming under intense criticism for the slogans — including those that referred to girls looking “hotter” to guys under the influence and being “chatty” or “clingy.”

…The proposed work for the new contract, which was issued on Aug. 25, is estimated at $11.5 million over a five-year period, Poole said.

Of that total, $2.5 million will come from state transportation department money. The rest is federally funded.

Under the contract, the campaign will focus not only on programs aimed at stopping impaired driving but also on motorcycle safety, seatbelt and child passenger safety and issues mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Those involved on the state side during the prior campaign effort will coordinate the plan again, Poole said.

“However, we have strengthened our internal approval process and are now including a greater number of people,” Poole said. “We have had multiple meetings to address procedural changes that will take place with the media agent selected by the RFQ process.”

The spiked anti-DUI campaign came under fire after fliers, coasters and posters started popping up in bars across Nashville. It was created by the Tombras Group of Knoxville, which has worked on campaigns such as “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” in the past.

…Poole has said the projected budget for that anti-DUI campaign, including television and radio ads, video production and design expenses, was $725,934.49. By the time the state halted the campaign, $456,923 had been spent, he said. It’s unclear if the state received any money back from The Tombras Group.