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Critical Evaluation of Road Crew Social Marketing Programme

This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:

Differentiate between commercial and social marketing and outline the scope of social marketing,

seeking out new ideas and opportunities.

Demonstrate awareness of social responsibility and become familiar with the range of issues where

social marketing has an impact.

Appreciate the characteristics and needs of others in society and understand prospective challenges

to social issues including environmental sustainability.

Critically analyse, discuss, and evaluate social marketing strategies and use secondary research

skills to collect, collate and integrate examples with theory.

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme2


Social marketing has gained immense popularity in the contemporary world, as a strategy for
promoting behavior change. Social marketing programmes fundamentally involves the
application of commercial techniques for marketing in advocating for social change
(Spotswood et al, 2012). Road Crew, a Wisconsin-based social marketing programme was
developed with the aim of drunk driving behavior change in order to reduce road crashes
related to alcohol. This paper discusses the Programme to critically review its effectiveness,
impact and the extent to which it is successfully implemented as a social marketing

Description of Road Crew

Road Crew existence can be traced to the year 2000 when the initial research on social
marketing to promote road safety, through discouraging drunk driving was initiated by
Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Safety (WisDOT). The
service was first funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following an
application by WisDOT with research support by Professor Michael Rothchild, a social
marketing expert from the School of Business at Wisconsin University. The one year funding
for piloting the project was expected to lay a foundation for road safety by reducing drunk
driving and thereafter be adopted by communities for continuity.

Road Crew is a service for party goers which allows individuals to drink without having to
drive, hence reducing alcohol-related accidents. Party goers make arrangements with Road
Crew before embarking on a night out: vehicles are allocated to pick them from home, drive
them from bar to bar as they enjoy the night and return them home when they are done
having fun. This way, Road Crew prevents drunk driving, allows for socialization and adds to

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme3
the fun. Over 97,000 rides had been given by the Road Crew as of 2008, preventing an
estimate of 140 crashes from drunk driving.

Road Crew’s main target audience is the single male, aged 21-34 years, working in the rural
areas as blue-collar workers. The research initially relies on findings by the US National
Commission Against Drunk Driving whose public hearings and national conferences in the
1990s revealed that drinking drivers aged 21-34 made up half of drunk drivers in fatal crashes
related to alcohol, were more likely to have revoked or suspended licenses and showed the
greatest resistance in behavior change as far as drinking is concerned.

Analysis of formative research

The basis for any marketing campaign is comprehensive research, aimed at understanding the
market and customer expectations, conducting competitor analysis and identifying the
potential target market. According to Kotabe & Helsen (2011), market research ensures that
the organization can develop a marketing strategy that is effective in meeting the needs of the
target audience. Road Crew has demonstrated high level research on the social marketing
programme, which was executed by a research team from University of Wisconsin under the
guidance of Professor Rothchild. The research was undertaken from the year 2000 and sought
to establish ways in which a social marketing campaign would be used in reducing accidents
resulting from drunk driving. The research which utilized existing literature as well as data
collection from the target audience concluded that discouraging people from drinking would
not be as effective as providing them with a solution to drunk driving. Three types of studies
were conducted namely existing literature review, focus group discussions with target
group’s expert observers and focus group discussions with the targeted audience. This was
effective in determining the behavior patterns of the target group and consequently ensure
that the right strategy for the social marketing programme as implemented. Ritcher (2012),

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme4
notes that research that includes the target audience as part of the respondents is likely to
yield more accurate results. The research concluded that young male individuals aged 21-34
years working in small farms in rural areas were more likely to drink and drive and therefore
more prone to alcohol-related accidents; thus making this population the target audience for
the programme.

Segmentation strategy

The strategy selected for segmenting the market depends on the objectives of the marketing
plan and the product or service in question. In social marketing, the same concept is applied,
where the targeted behavior change influences the segmentation strategy. Road Crew utilizes
a combination of segmentation strategies namely: geographical segmentation, demographic
segmentation and behavior segmentation (Ritcher, 2012). In reference to geographical
segmentation, Road Crew targets individuals living in the rural areas and small towns in the
countryside. Demographic segmentation is demonstrated in the selection of customers of a
particular age group and also in targeting male beneficiaries. Behavior segmentation on the
other hand is evidenced by the fact that the service targets individuals who are likely to drink
and drive. Such a combination is advantageous because it ensures that the target market is
defined as effectively as possible. However, it may have the weakness of narrowing the
segment too much and thus leaving out other individuals who may be a relevant target.

Establishment of goals and objectives

An effective social marketing programme must have well established goals and objectives
because these act as a guide for the marketers. Goals and objectives define what the
marketing program aims at achieving, how it will be achieved and how long it will take to be
achieved. Road Crew successfully achieves this important aspect of marketing, given that

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme5
there is a clear indication of what the service aims to achieve. Road Crew’s main objective is
to reduce the number of road crashes related to alcohol by offering a service that prevents
drinkers from driving while drunk. The social marketing programme effectively shows that
this objective will be met through providing transport for the drinkers to ensure that they do
not drive after drinking. The programme is also clear on the target group and the period in
which it will be conducted in order to achieve the desired outcomes. The achievements made
by Road Crew can be attributed to the well-articulated goals and objectives, which ensure
that the programme achieves its intended function. The existence of project impact data
which confirms the achievement of goals and objectives further provides backup for ell
established goals and objectives.

Social marketing development and use of social marketing mix

An important aspect of marketing is the marketing mix because it acts as a guide for the
marketing plan by providing a scope. Road Crew achieved this objective effectively by
defining their marketing mix based on the 4Ps of marketing. The product was the vehicle ride
to the bar, from bar to bar and back home; price was $15-20 per evening and $5-10 per single
ride; place was home to bars; and promotion was done through advertising on television,
newspapers, bars, movie theatres and over urinals. This marketing mix is used across the
three pilot counties, which to a great extent promotes their performance.

Programme Implementation

Having developed an operational plan, programme implementation becomes the most
important undertaking to ensure the plan is turned into reality. Jean (2013) notes that unless
marketers are capable of implementing the programme effectively, having a plan is
inadequate no matter how well it is designed. Road Crew can be described as a well

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme6
implemented programme with tangible results. By 2008, Road Crew had made savings of $31
million by preventing 140 crashes, an indication of the impact that the social marketing
programme was having on the efforts towards reducing crashes related to drunk driving. This
was Road Crew’s major objective and a demonstration of the achievements of the programme
is an indication of its effectiveness.

Road Crew worked together with the community during the programme implementation and
effective adoption of Road Crew in various counties. A unique feature in the implementation
is that Road Crew allowed counties to use locally available resources to achieve the model
and also be unique in their own way to prevent drunk driving. In Pork County for example,
the use of second-hand limousines was considered more cost effective while in Dodgeville
and Mineral Point, the use of an existing cab service was encouraged through offering more
affordable prices after 5pm. A shortcoming of this however is that it could lead to different
outcomes because the model is adopted differently, thus leading to difficulties in
measurement of outcomes.

Process, impact and outcome evaluation

An assessment of the process, impact and outcome reveals that Road Crew is a highly
effective social marketing programme that achieved its mandate and whose impact was felt
by the targeted group. The process was not only innovative but also appealing to the revelers
and the community. This programme meets a major requirement in social marketing, which is
to ensure conscious and voluntary behavior change. Spotswood et al (2012) notes that many
social marketing initiatives fail because of the use of implicit behavior change techniques and
use of tactics that do not appeal to the target audience. Road Crew specifically aims at
encouraging revelers to use their services as opposed to drunk driving and participants do so
willingly. In order to attract the interest of the target group, Road Crew uses innovative

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme7
approaches such as limousine rides, which to a great extent encouraged individuals to use the
service instead of driving their own cars.

Measuring a social marketing programme’s impact provides the basis for establishing
whether the project was successful. Road Crew’s approach to showing impact is highly
effective because it provides an overview of the program’s success in terms of cost savings
and lives saved as opposed to merely providing the number of rides made. Road Crew
attempts to demonstrate its impact in terms of cost savings derived when road crashes are
avoided. The cost of preventing a crash through implementing Road Crew was $6,400,
compared to the estimated $231,000 cost to the community in recovering from a crash.
Through its services, Road Crew was shown to have made savings of over $31 million,
prevented 140 crashes and prevented six deaths. This presentation of impact is catchy and
motivates any reader to develop interest in the programme.

An important aspect of this program is that the sustainability of the service is assured because
the community was involved from the beginning. As a result, they are conversant with the
service and its impact, which makes it easier for them to continue with it once the funding
from the government comes to an end. In this respect, it is natural to query where the funding
to sustain the programme will come from but the programme also demonstrates that this was
put into consideration. Users pay a reasonable fee when they use the vehicles and this is
sufficient to promote sustainability. $400,000 collected from riders would be used in addition
to the government funding to set up the program under community management.

The implementation of Road Crew raises an ethical issue which is not well addressed in the
case study. It is notable that the programme aims at reducing instances of drunk driving, yet it
does not show consideration of the fact that the transport services could actually increase
alcohol addiction among beneficiaries. Road Crew picks revelers and drops them at their

Road Crew Social Marketing Programme8
place of convenience and is aimed at creating fun out of the experience. This would certainly
attract individuals who may not go drinking in ordinary circumstances due to the availability
of transport and the fun factor. In essence, Road Crew could be raising a generation of
alcohol addicts in their efforts to reduce drunk driving.


Road Crew provides an exceptional example of how social marketing can harnessed to drive
social change. In this programme, Road Crew aims at reducing drunk driving by providing
transport service to revelers to ensure that they do not drive after drinking. It can be
concluded that the Road Crew social marketing programme was effective in achieving its
goals and objectives, the implementation process was well executed and that the programme
had the desired impact on the society. This model can be utilized in other areas of the United
States to reduce the number of crashes and deaths attributed to drunk driving.


Road Crew Social Marketing Programme9
Jean, B 2013, International Marketing in Rapidly Changing Environments, Somerville, MA:

Emerald Group Publishing.

Kotabe, M., & Helsen, K 2011, Global Marketing Management, 5th edition,

Wiley, Hoboken, N.J.

Ritcher, T. (2012). International Marketing Mix Management: Theoretical Framework,

Contingency Factors and Empirical Findings from World-Markets. Logos Verlag
Berlin GmbH.

Spotswood et al 2012, Some reasonable but uncomfortable questions about social marketing,

Journal of Social Marketing, Vol 2, Issue 3, pp. 163-175.

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