WSIB doesn’t play it safe

A cheeky new workplace safety campaign, animated by Beavis & Butthead's

A cheeky new workplace safety campaign, animated by Beavis & Butthead’s

J.J. Sedelmaier, gorily depicts losing body parts to grab the attention of 16-20s. One transit execution features a kid trying to play a videogame while missing a hand: ‘Why prevent workplace injuries? It’ll make playing on Xbox Live a lot more fun!’

‘We wanted to go with animation because we knew we could be more irreverent and silly,’ explains Joe Piccolo, group CD at Toronto-based Draftfcb. ‘Youth don’t think they’re ever going to get hurt or die.’

The campaign, from Toronto-based Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, includes transit, online and cinema executions to drive traffic to the microsite, On the site, contest bait like MP3 players, phones, Xbox 360s and scholarships lure visitors into boning up on workplace safety by navigating through the virtual town of

‘Prevent-itville,’ and completing a quiz. As of June 11, the site had 24,329 total sessions, averaging over six minutes. There were 19,873 contest entries. ‘We did interviews with about 150 kids. We learned that they work to get stuff: ‘I want an iPod, that’s why I’m working,” says Piccolo. ‘We thought, let’s bribe ‘em, basically. As long as they learn about work safety, who cares?’

We asked Paul Long, director, creative strategy at MacLaren McCann’s Calgary office, and the creative duo Chris Hall and Matt Syberg-Olsen, co-CDs at Arnold Worldwide’s Toronto office, to take a stab at dissecting the campaign.


PL: I like the approach. Make workplace safety a conscious issue by using graphic humour and a cool animator the target will relate to. (Kind of like using Bugs Bunny to warn the troops about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases during WWII. I don’t know if they actually did that, but they should have.)

Bold step by the WSIB, but for kids raised on The Itchy and Scratchy Show, even more severed limbs may be called for. One concern I have about the campaign is how kids are portrayed as dumb slackers. I don’t think they are.

CH & MS: The previous work felt more relevant than this stuff. It told kids that they had a right to a safe work environment, and just because you were getting paid, you didn’t have to risk your life. It was jarring, and it got your attention. It’s a bit confusing as to why a contest would hit that idea home more than the first campaign.


PL: It’s a simple and surprising approach to deal with the issue. Can’t help but stand out. Very consistent across all media. Great guerrilla opportunities as well – I see severed hands all over town.

CH & MS: This should have been round two of ‘There are no accidents,’ only animated, which could have been equally effective. This is why the campaign falls short.


PL: They will certainly stand out in the environment. It’s consistent with the campaign, and provides clear direction to the website.


PL: Liked it. Especially the part where the guy tries to form an L on his forehead to identify the other guy as a loser, but it’s backwards because he lost the proper hand in a work accident.

CH & MS: The animation is fresh, but gets lost in the contest messaging.


PL: It’s a solid foundation for the rest of the campaign – lots of graphic humour and blood. Plenty to keep the visitor there for a while, but not too much to be boring. I left knowing a few vital things about workplace safety I didn’t know before, so if anyone leaves dangerous chemicals around the agency lunchroom I can handle it.

CH & MS: The website is well executed and informative. In fact, there are a couple of spots on there that should probably be the thrust of the campaign. We’d love to write more, but it seems that one of the interns has had an incident with our rusty guillotine.

The creds

Client – Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Moira McIntyre, VP;

Colin Fenby, marketing manager

Agency – Draftfcb

Robin Heisey, Steve DiLorenzo, CDs; Chris Taciuk, David Horovitch, copywriters; Joe Piccolo, Anthony Del Rizzo, ADs; Steven Rosic, Flash developer; Stephanie Davis, Christine Boake, graphics/design; Kaezad Nallaseth, account management; Sheila Sone, producer; Yameen Tejpar, media planner

Illustration – J.J. Sedelmaier Productions