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Students from South East Technological University (SETU) were among the 800 participants from universities across Ireland who participated in the ‘Road Safety Reimagined 2024’ initiative, led by Dr Christina O’Connor (UL) and Sergeant Tony Miniter (Limerick Roads Policing Unit).

The challenge, which is part of the Garda Lifesaver Project, saw the participants tasked with creating marketing campaigns targeted at 18–25-year-olds with the focus of the campaigns being on discouraging driving under the influence of drugs.  Given the increase in road deaths since the beginning of this year this initiative is, sadly, particularly relevant.

During the semester, SETU students on the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) module had a talk from Sergeant Miniter about the importance of road safety and good driver behaviour. Throughout the talk, students were posed with the challenge of reaching the 18-25-year-old cohort of drivers by getting them to think about their attitudes and behaviours on the road and to start the conversation around drug driving.

Following the initial briefing talk at SETU one student said, “Tony’s talk last week was very impactful. Everyone I talked to afterwards said it completely changed their perspective on driving and that it was very eye opening. I know since then I have driven with a lot more care and caution. The thing I took away most from his talk is... not the consequences of being caught drug driving but the potential consequences it can have on people’s lives”.

"This challenge was a wonderful opportunity to showcase not only the talent of our students, but also to highlight the role marketing can play in changing behaviour for social good.”

Sinead O’Keeffe, Lecturer in Marketing, SETU

A worthwhile initiative

The initiative culminated in a showcase event, held in the Concert Hall in the University of Limerick (UL) on Tuesday, 16 April 2024. This showcase was sponsored by ESB and offered €8,000 in prize money.  SETU's six groups who attended on the day all excelled in the challenge presented. The overall winners of the six SETU groups present were Bachelor of Business (Hons) students Alicia Burberry, Sophie O’Keeffe, Erin O’Reilly, Faye Tully, Sarah Reid, and Keisha Ogieriakhi.  

Dr Anne-Marie Ivers, who lectured the group, said, “We were honoured to have taken part in the Road Safety Reimagined initiative 2024’ and to have the opportunity to work on such a worthwhile initiative. It is particularly important for students to realise that their ideas can have impact. Congratulations to all of the students that took part in the challenge, the finalists, and the winners. We are very proud of you”. 

SETU boasted an overall national runner up in the “Most Visually Impactful” category, with students from the Bachelor of International Business (Hons) comprising Megan Murphy, Janine Silva, Sam O’Mahony, Rimsha Sajid, Diana Kravchenko and Favour Titilayo taking that accolade.  Their lecturer, Dr Fiona Whelan-Ryan, warmly congratulated the students acknowledging each of the group members’ “individual and collective creativity, commitment to [the aim and impact of] the project as well as their hard-work in striving to refine their work and producing excellent pitches and a visually impactful poster”.

The overall winner was by students from Maynooth University. Their concept will be rolled out by An Garda Síochána as part of their overall strategy on education around road safety. 

The power of marketing 

Speaking after the event, Sinead O’Keeffe (lecturer in Marketing, SETU) said “this was a great initiative for our students to be involved with and we are so proud of their efforts and the creativity that they displayed in their posters. This challenge was a wonderful opportunity to showcase not only the talent of our students, but also to highlight the role marketing can play in changing behaviour for social good.” 

Finally, Dr Anne-Marie Ivers asked that as a community and faculty we remember “colleagues and students that have been affected by the passing of loved ones on the road this semester.  Our thoughts are with you at this incredibly difficult time”.

The posters created by the SETU students will be displayed in the School of Business Atrium, Cork Road Campus Waterford over the coming weeks.