Does anyone from the UK remember the THINK! Tales of the Road advertisements? This child road safety campaign replaced the funny Hedgehog adverts in 2009 with a far more darker tone, showing what happened to three children after they got run over when they did not follow the Green Cross Code.
The campaign was deemed a success and so in 2010 there was going to be two more adverts, starting with "The Girl Who Rode Her Bike All Wrong" and another about a boy who gets distracted while crossing the road. But despite the former advert getting mobile billboard advertising and two games on the Tales of the Road website, the whole campaign ended in 2010, meaning that neither of the two got a television advert. Many people assumed that it was because of The Conservative and Liberal Democrats parties coming into power and immediately starting to cut stuff to save money. Well, that was one of the main reasons but there was another, more darker reason why.
How do I know this? Because I was was one of the animators of these adverts. My job was to animate the aftermath of the incident and the smart kids showing the correct way on how to cross the road safely (or in this advert, bike safely).
Initially I was wondering if this bike road safety would even make it on cinema, let alone TV, considering that this girl would suffer head injuries. "Well the other three children will properly bounce back from their injuries within a year or so but this girl? Head injuries are usually permanent." I told a colleague. On the other hand, this is what you would expect if you were to crash and not wear a helmet so neither of us complained.
After a few months, the animation and narrating was complete and hence, it was time to see this advert before it went on TV and cinema. The advert began like the other three adverts, showing the girl with the injuries, in this case with a head injury. Then like the other three, we see a flashback as to how she suffered the injuries; she was riding without any protective gear at all, not even a helmet. She was also riding on the wrong side of the road until suddenly, a car came along. She only just managed to dodge it but she falls off her bicycle and slams head-first into a tree. This is where things started to go wrong.
Normally it would cut back to the injured child before the accident. But instead we see her crash into the tree. "A bit odd but nothing wrong" I thought to myself. But then it suddenly cut to her brain during the accident. And it was horrible. And although thankfully it was an animated brain, I still came close to throwing up. Whoever animated did an incredibly good job, as had it not been obvious that the brain was animated, it could have been mistaken for being real. To make matters worse, it wasn't detailing a minor brain injury. It was detailing a MAJOR one. Now describing things is one of my weak points, I admit, but what I can say is that if you saw this, you would want to throw up. Trust me on that.
The rest of the advert went like normal but the damage was done. Me and most of the staff were shocked and angry at what we just saw and we almost immediately demanded an investigation. I mean, it obviously wasn't meant to be a part of the advert and even if it somehow was supposed to be part of this advert, was WAY too detailed and serious. I mean, the girl DID survive after all, albeit feeling miserable. I am no brain surgeon but I am pretty sure that few people can survive a brain injury like the one animated.
Now if you are reading this in another country, you may be thinking "Why didn't you simply remove the offending part from the video?" Well we did. But unfortunately, the UK is the home of red tape among other things. Within a couple of hours, somebody had already leaked the incident to the press and it took a gagging order to stop the press from reporting about it. But some of the media were having none of it, and were fighting the order, citing that that THINK! were using the gag order in a abusive way. Maybe they were right.
This whole fiasco meant that not only was the Tales of the Road campaign postponed but the entire THINK! road safety campaign altogether. And with the new goverment cutting literally everything, it meant that the altered advert was never shown on TV or cinema. The advert is properly still at THINK! studios to this day. Maybe it will be released one day.
An investigation into who added this to the advert concluded that a man (who I won't name) was the one who animated it and was fired as a result. I never saw him again, although I have heard rumours that he went into a mental institute a couple of months afterwards and only went out in July. If you are the guy then I am glad you are feeling better and I wish you the best of luck for the future.
And that's all there is to it. The gag order ended a couple of years back, but the media did not report on it so hence, why you are able to read this. As for me? Well me the rest of the Tales of the Road staff were laid off and so I am now working at various studios. But I will always remember this incident as sadly it still appears in my sleep sometimes.
Written by SpaceManiac888