Welcome to the AMSS!
Welcome to the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society (AMSS). Where to start! How about we start at the beginning so everyone understands the passion behind this initiative.
In the summer of 2015, Liane Langlois reached out to long time now retired media guy Marty Forbes about concerns she had for the safety of the motorcycle community. Liane has been very active in leading other initiatives in the motorcycle community for several years. Marty has been a long time rider and still writes a column in the Edmonton Sun every second Monday as well as heads up media for the Singing Christmas Tree. He often talks about the dangers on the roads that face motorcycle riders, so without even really knowing where this would end up, this already seemed like a good match on paper.
It was a seemingly small request Liane put to Marty, “could you please help me get in front of the right people at Global to help me create a positive message about our community?” She went on to explain that after a few fatalities and countless accidents, the comments on articles online over the past several years have become increasingly harder to read. It was almost as if the animosity towards the small minority of noisy or “reckless” riders has grown to paint us all with the same brush and our lives no longer mattered. She had heard an increasing amount of stories of vehicles that purposely have run riders off the road. And don’t even get started on the increase in distracted driving which causes a whole new set of dangers for anyone, not just riders. Marty’s response was simple and immediate, “let’s partner up and work together.”
Two things then factored in to how quickly this grew; one was how many high profile media personalities ride and the level of respect those in the media have for Marty Forbes. Everywhere we turned, we never faced a “no”, we never had to further explain. It was almost as if we would start to say “so we are working on a new motorcycle safety campaign and we hope…” where we would be cut off with an immediate “we are in, what do you need from us”. It was overwhelming to say the least and something very special.
Shaw Cable was quick to jump in and work with the script that we developed. They suggested we divide the idea into two which is how we ended up with the We Are and Left Turn campaigns. Alexa MacLean started us out with shooting footage with media personalities as well as the reenactment of the left turn scenario. Her work was simply amazing however she was soon promoted accepting a position out east. Enter Jen McDonald who took over like we never missed a beat to finish off the footage for the We Are campaign then start putting all the pieces together. To complete these compelling pieces of work, Marty enlisted the help of the top voiceover guys, Dan Tucek. We could not have had a better voice for these spots.
For radio spots, every station that has an on-air personality that rides was able to create a personalized message with a “watch for us” theme. Dan Tucek also recorded a generic spot for the stations that currently are without a rider on-air. Every local station and a couple in the Edmonton area did not hesitate to commit to airing the ads when it came time to launch, and not just a few times, they committed to a lot of plays over the course of several weeks!
In the meantime, for our work to be legally considered and treated as a public service announcement, we needed to become an official non-profit of some sort. Joining Liane and Marty were Terry Bleau, Mike Schmidt and Doug McFayden to officially found our non-profit society with Corporate Registries. By doing so, we were able to get approval from the national board ThinkTV for official PSA status.
With intentions to pull in varying levels of government for future campaigns, we noticed the City of Edmonton has a brand new, never seen before campaign called Vision Zero. For the first time in anyone’s memory, billboards were popping up in the city with a “watch for us, share the road” message and an image of a couple on their motorcycle. So when we talked to the city about our full multi-media blitz campaign coming down the pipe, it made sense that we join forces and help promote each other’s campaigns as they run concurrently. The more safety messages out there, the better!
And that is the story of how the AMSS came to be and the story behind the first campaign. It has been a whirlwind of an adventure over the past few months getting this ready for our May 11 launch and we all agree every bit of it was worth it. The launch of our website is the last piece of our media as we are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Soundcloud. Please join in wherever you would like! The more our message can spread the better. If we even save just one life this season, the hard work was worth it.
Final note goes to all the media outlets that stepped up and donated their time, efforts and airtime to this cause. This was a message that we hoped we could get out there, we never dreamt it would become as big as it has! Can’t wait for everyone else to see what we have all accomplished together.