Was The ProRail ‘Victim Fashion’ Campaign Too Controversial?


Recently The Netherlands train service ProRail launched a short-lived, controversial campaign to curb railway accidents. I want to share it with you because it brings up an important marketing question: When is controversial advertising going too far? And specifically is this ProRail campaign off the rails?

Victim Fashion

First, the campaign.

Victim Fashion. Created By Accident.

The ProRail campaign was aimed at teenagers because, despite previous PSA efforts, the number of railway casualties in The Netherlands has tripled since 2016. To reach this elusive audience, a “fashion” brand was created featuring a replica collection of torn clothing as worn by actual railway accident victims.

The “Victim Fashion” brand – promoted under the brilliant slogan “Created by accident” – was hyped by influencers and subsequently launched at a fashion show in Amsterdam in early April.