To encourage the bike-loving Danes to up their bike-helmet game, we introduced them to Svend and Hjalmar and the rest of their Viking village in Sagnlandet Lejre, in the year 893. While the Viking leader, Svend, and his fellow Vikings are about to set sail to go raid and plunder in England, Svend refuses to wear his helmet because it – amongst a long list of poor excuses - wrecks his hair.
Exposing these comical, yet poor and vain excuses for not wearing a helmet turned out to be something the Danes could relate to and appreciate: Nine out of ten who had seen the film agreed with the main message; wearing a helmet when biking is a good idea to protect your head. 86% had even reflected on the fact that wearing a helmet was more important than vanity. The campaign reached an astounding 87% liking. And most importantly, one-third of non-helmet-users have seriously considered purchasing a helmet after having seen the film – in fact, only a month after the campaign launch, 4% of non-users had already gone ahead and done so. How amazing is that!
The Danes love their bikes, in fact, 90% of the population owns one and bikes an average of 3.46km per day. Moreover, the Danish capital of Copenhagen has been ranked the world’s most cycle-friendly city, according to the World Economic Forum.
One problem, however; helmets have never become as popular as cycling itself. At least not amongst the adult population. And although significant progress has been made in recent years, 50% of Danish adults still fail to put on a helmet when biking. This is despite the fact that around 70% of all serious road traffic injuries in Denmark happen to cyclists.
So why such apprehension towards putting on a helmet, when the safety-benefits of wearing one are so painfully obvious? In short: there is not one good excuse for not wearing a helmet – but there is a very long list of poor ones. Studies indicates that most excuses have to do with vanity and a general tendency to think “It won’t happen to me, I am a responsible cyclist.”
To combat this tendency, Danish Road Safety Council launched a campaign that poked gentle fun at those too vain to wear a helmet, by hanging all their poor excuses out to dry. And what better group to do this with, than someone who wore their helmets with pride? The Vikings.
The film takes place in a Viking village, Sagnlandet Lejre, in the year 893, at a raiding party that is due to set sail to England to raid and plunder. Before they set off, the Viking leader; Svend, announces to his co-Viking Hjalmar and the rest of his Viking army, that he won’t be needing his iconic Viking helmet because it is too itchy, wrecks his hair and that he is a safe rider of horses and never falls off. Thus, exposing all the common justifications cyclists use as excuses to not wear a helmet. Even though the setting is different, the excuses remain the same today – and with this film, it becomes evident for viewers just how bizarre these excuses really sound.
Turns out Svend, Hjalmar, and the rest of our fellow Vikings were an effective means to get helmet-usage on the radar amongst the bike- (and Viking-) loving Danes: Nine out of ten who had seen the film agreed with the main message, that wearing a helmet when biking is a good idea to protect your head. 86% had even reflected on the fact that wearing a helmet was more important than vanity. Seven out of ten non-helmet users found the film relevant – and a total of 91% of viewers thought the film would be relevant for others. In fact, one-third of non-users were seriously considering purchasing a helmet after having seen the film - and 4% of non-users went ahead and did so after having seen the film. How amazing is that!
Suffice to say, with an unusually high campaign-liking of 87%, humor and Vikings proved to be the perfect combination to promote good bike-helmet habits amongst the Danes.