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I-70 Traffic Gets Animated

In Colorado, winter brings snow, and with it heavier traffic on I-70. On an average winter weekend day, this thoroughfare to the state’s mountain playground carries some 30,000 vehicles. Skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and snow watchers, routine commuters and trucks, who all want to get to their destination as safely, smoothly and quickly as possible.

With this same goal in mind, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) uses various traffic management strategies to improve conditions along the corridor. But what are they? And why do they matter?

For the winter of 2016, CDOT tasked CIG with raising awareness about the state’s Traction Law, Move It Law, the new I-70 Mountain Express Lane, the service provided by Mountain Travel Radio and reasons for Safety Metering.

CIG developed a series of animated, narrated and humorous videos, presenting first the problem (and/or people’s misconceptions about how to drive I-70) and then an explanation of CDOT’s solution.

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With Facebook as the primary outreach channel, we defined our audience with specific geographic and interest-based parameters. We targeted users living near or along I-70, skiers and snowboarders, and those interested in popular mountain destinations.

We referenced the actual interstate, replicating highway signs and other I-70 identifiers that mountain travelers would recognize. The blocked, simplified form helped focus viewers’ attention on CDOT’s messages.

We stayed within our budget of $28,000 to create five engaging, educational and one-of-a-kind animated videos. We also stretched it. The videos received such a positive response that CDOT plans to use them for many winters to come – and other seasons, too!

Compared with playing in the mountains, the drive on I-70 is mundane at best. So we turned to humor, our communication special sauce, to draw our audience’s attention. We took a normally dull subject – transportation – and turned it into something witty and funny, ensuring viewers would be engaged from start to finish. Even with five different topics, we created cohesion in the series through slight variations on one recognizable theme.

Our special sauce? Humor.

In total, the videos reached 1.1 million people on social media and generated nearly 40,000 unique engagements (likes, comments and shares). They also made history. Four of the videos rose in the ranks to CDOT’s top 10 most successful videos ever by views. Numbers aside, the true measure of these videos’ success is in their utility. CDOT plans to use them again, for other seasons and future years.