Norfolk Southern’s ‘Train Your Brain’ Public Safety Awareness Program Heads to Ohio

NORFOLK, Va. — It’s on to Ohio in 2011 for “Brainy” and Norfolk Southern’s “Train Your Brain” safety campaign after completing a two-year successful run in east central and northern Indiana.

The 2010 campaign made its own mark for attention-grabbing creativity, no small feat for a program that from its beginning has featured a costumed giant pink walking brain as its mascot.

Brainy is a silent safety sentry who without saying a word helps train people to be smart around grade crossings and railroad property. Brainy made 18 public appearances in 2010, from the 13th Annual BBQ RibFest at Fort Wayne to the gridiron clash between Notre Dame and Utah, one of seven Notre Dame home games that Brainy attended. No one could miss the rotating brain perched atop the Train Your Brain tent at tailgating events.

“This is great that Norfolk Southern is taking the time to give back to the community,” and “Brainy is a celebrity,” are typical actual comments made by guests who visited the Train Your Brain tent.

David Julian, NS vice president safety and environmental, said a serious message is behind the campaign’s whimsical approach. “Most all car-train collisions and trespass incidents, along with the resulting tragic injuries and deaths, are preventable by drivers and pedestrians being safe around railroad tracks and paying attention to highway warning signs and signals,” Julian said.

The campaign was refreshed in 2010 by dramatic billboards featuring slogans such as, “I raced a train and all I got was this lousy full-body cast.” Pizza patrons in Muncie, South Bend, and Fort Wayne got a side order of safety along with their pepperoni as Train Your Brain attached a lifesaving message to 100,000 pizza delivery boxes. In a stroke of good timing, the campaign’s theater screen ads started running about the same time as the train crash movie “Unstoppable” started showing.

In 2010, the campaign distributed a total of 45,863 novelties, including 3,218 T-shirts, 15,300 stress brains, 12,475 puzzle sheets, 4,050 stickers, and 3,720 car decals.

Norfolk Southern launched Train Your Brain in 2007 in Memphis, Tenn., and took the campaign to Raleigh, N.C., in 2008. Indiana, traditionally a high-incidence state for car-train crashes and trespass violations, was targeted in 2009 and 2010. Next year, the campaign will concentrate in two Ohio corridors: Portsmouth-Bellevue, and Cleveland west to the state line.

Norfolk Southern’s Grade Crossing Oversight Committee, an interdepartmental team that coordinates the company’s overall highway-rail grade crossing and trespass prevention programs, provides direction for Train Your Brain, with support from the safety, law, operations, and corporate communications departments, and the creative team of the Archer Malmo advertising agency in Memphis, Tenn. Rick Harris, NS director corporate communications, and Bill Barringer, NS director grade crossing safety, administer the campaign.

Fans had their photos taken with Brainy and viewed them on Brainy’s Facebook page and on the Train Your Brain website at www.brainysworld.com.