Van Damme the risks.


The Loy Krathong festival is an amazing sight to see with all the floating ‘krathongs’ or lotus-shaped container on the river and the hovering ‘khom loi’ or sky lanterns. While people were lining the river to release their krathongs, many others moved to higher ground to prepare their khom lois to launch them into the sky. There’s a risk that the khom lois never fly, but people still make the effort to ensure the conditions like timing, wind, stability, etc. are right so it does happen. The couple in this photo taken last week on Bangkok’s Saphan Taksin bridge was eventually successful, but I remember seeing an impatient group of guys who saw their khom loi go up in flames even before it left the ground.

This process of releasing a khom loi, where people make sure all the conditions are right to reduce the risk of the lantern from catching fire, reminds me of a YouTube video in November that went viral. Do you remember Jean-Claude Van Damme, actor and action movie star? His one-minute video doing the “epic spit”withVolvo Trucks nearly broke the internet – it has been viewed more than 54 million times on YouTube, making it the most viral non-super bowl auto campaign ad ever,according to tracking firm Visible Measures. The aim of Volvo’s marketing campaign of “Live Stunts” is to highlight that its trucks have performance advantages and to promote its Volvo trucks to a mainstream audience with a steady stream of viral videos through an obscure YouTube account.

In terms of reducing the risk of disaster, the Van Damme video, along with the others, really hits the spot when it comes to putting plans in place to reduce the risk of a horrible accident. The fact that disaster is adverted isn’t so much the issue as a lot of planning and preparedness went into the stunts so that a disaster doesn’t happen. This underlying way of communicating disaster risk reduction (DRR)may be subtle, yet it’s this lack of “in-your-face” communication that resonates with people especially when Volvo is showing that its innovative dynamic steering can make the most precarious situations safe. Highlighting this message regularly and with some creativity ultimately builds a strong brand for Volvo and also instills confidence in people about the safety of Volvo’s safety measures. This could be the future for making DRR accessible and for communicating science and climate change that makes sense to people – and that means understanding people, their needs, and their interests.

Even with all the calculated risk taking, check out the pre-stunt video where Van Damme looks concerned and a bit shell-shocked over what Volvo is asking him to do!

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