Colas Rail

Safety Campaign and Animated Character Design

Colas Rail is a subsidiary of the Colas Group, the world’s leading road construction and maintenance company. The Group has 1,400 sites across all continents and employs more than 55,000 people. Colas Rail itself is a leading provider of rail infrastructure services, from simple projects to highly complex schemes around the globe.

The Why

As a business which takes employee safety extremely seriously, Colas Rail wanted to build upon its existing activities by launching a campaign titled ‘Free to be Safe’ – which is designed to give its staff the confidence to ‘speak up’, ‘challenge’ or ‘stop work’ if they feel a situation is unsafe. Alongside this campaign, Colas Rail also wanted to re-launch their existing ‘CARL’ close call reporting app, to create a new and more charismatic animated character who would then go on to champion the Free to be Safe movement.

The What

We commenced the project by meeting with stakeholders from across the business, to discuss the key objectives of the campaign. From this, we were tasked with reviewing the current close call reporting app identity and evolving the existing character to create a more iconic and memorable figure to encourage engagement with employees.

After gathering all of the relevant background information, we started by creating a number of alternative ‘looks’ for the Carl character, which included updating him with all of the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Once the look of the new character had been agreed, we were then asked to create an animated showreel which explained why Carl was changing, so that all staff members understood the purpose behind the work. This involved writing a slightly humorous script and storyboard, to ensure that we engaged with our audience effectively, and then creating the full animation – which can be viewed below.

The second part of the project was to create a new hard hitting visual identity to represent the Free to be Safe initiative and to develop a creative concept that would support a number of physical assets from posters, social media posts and punchy animation sequences – all to encourage a positive dialogue between employees and management.

Alongside this we also developed a set of messaging statements for the campaign, expanding on the three key messages of being ‘free to speak up’, ‘free to challenge’ and ‘free to stop work’. These were then used as the base for a series of posters, leaflets and other materials – as well as a more detailed explanation of the campaign on the Colas website, and in email broadcasts to staff.

As the campaign developed, the Colas Rail marketing team was also working on a number of internal activities, which included a series of video interviews with staff members, explaining what the different elements of ‘Free to be Safe’ meant for them. As a result, imagery from these clips, along with QR codes linking directly to them, were then also incorporated into the campaign, particularly with regard to the posters.

Colas Rail Social Media
Colas Rail free to be safe poster from case study

As a sign-off for all of the new materials, staff were reminded that if they were involved in any kind of safety-related or close call issue, then it was ‘OK to tell Carl’ – to encourage employees to report any situations via the CARL app. This is vital for the Colas Rail management team, to ensure that they are fully informed of these types of occurrences, and can ensure that they put long terms plans in place to reduce them even further.

We have been delighted in the success of this campaign, which has resulted in Colas Rail’s supplier partners also asking to become involved, and to start using the Free to be Safe branding.