Nissan sponsors safe driving campaign in Middle East

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates--With an eye on high accident rates in Persian Gulf countries, Japan's Nissan is pouring some $200,000 into a traffic safety campaign.

The five 15-second spots on local and satellite TV in the Gulf focus on child safety, road rage, the importance of seat belts, the hazards of using mobile phones while driving and speeding. More than a half-dozen TV stations are also offering $25,000 worth of free air time for the "Salama" campaign.

Coined from the Arabic word for "safety," Salama is the name of Nissan's traffic safety "cop" -- a young Gulf boy who patrols the region on a magic carpet to check for traffic violations.

"As a thriving member of this community, we feel that we have a responsibility to contribute positively to its well being," says Masahi Nakaura, general manager for Nissan Middle East.

Recent figures suggest traffic accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the region. In the UAE, alone, more than 630 people died and more than 9,600 people were injured in 1998 from traffic-related accidents -- high figures compared to the area's population size. Similarly high rates were recorded in Oman.

In the Gulf region, Nissan's sales increased 50% in 1998 from the previous year, with 82,000 vehicles sold, according to Intermarkets Dubai, the ad agency handling its accounts. Intermarkets did not disclose Nissan's sales figures or market share in the region.

Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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