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Horn ‘Not’ Okay Please
Mumbai Police’s new campaign tries to rein in incessant honkers with a ‘punishing signal’

Shruti Venkatesh

Commuting in the city is no mean feat. Not only do you have to make your way through unending traffic snarls, but also brace for deafening, incessant honking at every bottleneck or signal even when it doesn’t clear traffic or turn the signal green faster. “Honking indiscriminately is a part of traffic indiscipline. It leads to an increase in noise pollution and causes mental and physiological stress on people staying in and around these congestion zones. It also leads to incidents of road rage,” says Mumbai Police PRO Pranaya Ashok.

The problem is serious, and the Mumbai Police was determined to improve the situation in an educative yet entertaining way. This prompted them to launch a one-of-its-kind campaign called – Honk More, Wait More. It is a combination of on-ground activation coupled with a digital film capturing the real reactions, and has gone viral across social media platforms with several users calling it a “brilliant strategy”. Essentially, the signals are hooked to decibel meters that capture the noise levels. As soon as it crosses the threshold, the signal turns red again instead of turning green, calling them ‘punishing signals’! These decibel meters were installed at several vital intersections in Mumbai, like at Haji Ali and Marine Drive area, in the months of November and December last year. “We did it just on a trial basis for the video,” states Ashok.

In the two-minute film uploaded on social media, one can see confused people stepping out of their vehicles to find why the signal keeps turning red. They continue honking and get angry at the delayed wait until some of them realise what is happening and yell at the others to stop honking. Amid all this chaos, pedestrians enjoy a laugh while the traffic cops exchange a high-five at their experiment being successful.

“It is a very well thought-out campaign that has gone viral. On social channels alone, it has got over three million views and has been shared across WhatsApp, a testimony to the fact that the campaign has resonated with the consumer. It is a great concept supported by great execution,” says Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO, Mirum India. Besides local media, the campaign has also received coverage in international publications such as The Guardian and New York Times.

This novel idea was proposed by the Mumbai Police and their creative agency. “We instinctively knew that a mere ad or billboard message wouldn’t do. The honkers have been doing it for so long, maybe, they don’t even realise it,” says Robby Mathew, chief creative officer, FCB Interface, a group agency of FCB in India.

The success of this campaign has encouraged Mumbai police to do a deeper trial in other parts of the city, says Ashok. In the meanwhile, police in other cities and states are planning to follow the Mumbai model and install ‘punishing signals’ in their respective areas. There is clearly a lot of noise around the campaign, and this time, no one’s complaining!

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