'Chopper' ad scoops award


21 July 2002
By Sheree Went

A CONTROVERSIAL anti-drink driving advertisement featuring notorious criminal Mark "Chopper" Read has been voted by Australia's advertising industry as the best television commercial of the year.

Developed by Saatchi and Saatchi advertising and the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), the advertisement also claimed two other awards including best community service advertisement.

The ad, aired throughout last year and designed to scare people about life in jail, has "Chopper" in his kitchen pointing to different areas on his body where he was injured in prison.

"When I was in prison, I got slashed in the face, my ears cut off ... If you drink and drive and you're unfortunate enough to hit somebody, you ought to pray to God that you don't go to prison," Read says in the ad.

PCA chairman Harold Scruby was elated the industry had picked the commercial from such a tough field, including the popular Yellow Pages "Not Happy Jan" advertisement.

"These awards are the guru awards for television advertising ... thousands of ads were put up but we won the number one," Mr Scruby told AAP.

"It is very hard to get people's attention, then to retain it and actually change their behaviour and we are happy that has been recognised."

The 45-second commercial was one of two featuring "Chopper", who donated his time, in response to research showing men over the age of 30 were more scared of going to jail than they were of killing someone in a road accident.

"We found people were more worried about going to prison than actually killing someone so we wanted to say well here's what it's like in prison so you better care more about drinking and driving," Mr Scruby said.

While using "Chopper" had been controversial, Mr Scruby said it gave the commercials a touch of reality.

"We felt a lot of the road safety commercials of people going to court after hitting someone were making people tune off because they were staged ...

"So we thought let's make a real one," he said.

Another ad - that does feature Chopper - is currently in production focussing on road safety around schools and bus stops and will be released later in the year.

"I don't want to say too much about it but we can foreshadow there is another commercial in the making ... We're going to continue to do hard hitting road safety ads without apology," he said.