On 4th of April 2019, ProRail (a Dutch railway company) launched an online store for clothes with the slogan: ‘Victim Faction, created by accident.’ The clothes, such as destroyed jackets and jeans, are replicas of clothes from youth victims who got hit by a train. On the website of Victim Fashion are 13 pieces of clothes represented. If you click on one of the clothes, you can see who the clothing wore and how he or she got killed by a train. By sharing those stories, ProRail hopes to make youth aware that crawling under the barriers while the red light is on, or walking on the railway is deadly. ‘Make sure that your clothes do not end up in our Victim Fashion collection,’ ProRail says.
ProRail says that the campaign is needed because of the increasing deadly accidents around the railway in the last few years. Among those victims were also young people. ProRail says they have a hard time reaching the young people to make them aware of the danger. That is why they created an online store. ProRail also collaborated with influencers followed by the target group of young people, such as Gwen van Poorten (as a side note: learn the Dutch language and follow Gwen, she is hilarious).
Not all people in the Netherlands are happy with this campaign. NS, the Dutch train company, says that these images would remind train drivers and conductors of traumatic experiences. Relatives of the victims have expressed in the news that they were shocked by the images used. Also, the State Secretary for Infrastructure, Stientje van Veldhoven, judged the new safety campaign and called it ‘unnecessarily harsh.’
On the 8th of April 2019, ProRail discontinues the controversial safety campaign. The website is shut down, and the railway company says that the goal of the campaign has been achieved. I’m curious about your opinion. Do you think this campaign is too harsh? Do you think this campaign is effective? Can you think of any other possible campaigns how you can reach the target group of young people of 12 – 18 years?