. .

Brains on: Engines off

For zero CO2 on short distances

Title in original language:

Kopf an: Motor aus. Für null CO2 auf Kurzstrecken.


Germany: Bamberg, Dortmund, Halle/Saale, Karlsruhe (2009) and Berlin, Braunschweig, Freiburg, Herzogenaurach, Kiel (2010)

Project description:

Target of the campaign

  • Focus on the best target groups, ignore the car lovers.
  • Get the politicians on board.
  • Catch the people with clear messages and emotions.


  • Change of behaviour by introducing a multi channel campaign in 9 German cities.
  • To double the distances covered walking or by bicycle.
  • Contributing to the aim of the federal government of Germany to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 % by 2020.

50 % of all car trips are shorter than six kilometres. On such trips a car has particularly high fuel consumption and produces high emissions, until the engine has reached its operation temperature. If Germans used their bicycles and walked twice as much as they do now, they would save five to six million tons of CO2 each year – and besides they would stay fit and healthy.


The application for national funding was approved in 2008. The Federal Ministry for the Environment provided 4 million Euro from emissions trading for the campaign. 110 cities applied for implementing the campaign in their city, but only 9 of them were selected. Eligible were cities which had already built bicycle tracks and pedestrian infrastructure and planned to invest more.

An ex ante evaluation carried out by the Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung was to show the ideal target group of the campaign with the best possible response. They excluded the hardliner environmentalists as well as the hard-core drivers. Instead, the campaign focussed on three lifestyle groups: the sophisticated culturally interested, the outdoor-oriented environmentally-conscious and finally the fun and performance oriented; the latter are less ecologically-minded, but they are open for new trends, and cycling is a new trend.


The communication agencies fairkehr and Tinkerbelle and the consultancy velo:konzept jointly developed the multi channel campaign in order to trigger a change of mind-set and ultimately people’s behaviour in the long run. The objective was to have people leave their car for short distances and instead walk or cycle. The motivation was fun, but at the same time increased consciousness for the climate, the real costs of driving a car and their own health. With provoking and funny messages (“Better YOU start to sweat than the polar caps.”) on huge advertising panels alongside streets, on back-lit glass panels, on buildings, on busses and trams, on the radio the campaign reached car drivers in those spots where they were supposed to rethink their need for driving, i.e. on their way to work, in front of schools, while shopping etc. In addition, the campaign included:

  • Lotteries and competitions
  • Cinema and radio advertising
  • Print and online advertising
  • Website www.kopf-an.de
  • Presentations at trade fairs and other events, such as bicycle fashion shows
  • Fully-automated bike wash stations
  • Specially reserved bike parking for ‘climate heroes’
  • Safe bike parking with real body guards at special events
  • Repair services
  • E-bike testing
  • Fun speed cameras for cyclists whose photographs would take part in a lottery
  • Distributing so-called ‘coaching packs’ to car drivers as incentives for switching the transport mode
  • and many others

The campaign comprised three phases: red, green and blue, analogous to the phases of the transtheoretical model (TTM) used in addiction therapy. The first phase is to make people more conscious and draw their attention to messages and aims. The following green phase was made up of concrete suggestions for mobility behaviour with fun, climate protection and health benefits. The third phase confirmed pedestrians and cyclists (in blue) that they were on the right track.

Local partners of the campaign were:

Politicians (city councils), public transport operators, to support multimodal traffic, local TV and radio stations, private businesses (including such big ones as Puma and Addidas), ensurance companies, supermarkets and department stores, but also hospitals.


The campaign is based on the transtheoretical model of behavioural change. Behavioural change takes place in in six recruitment steps:

  • Pre-contemplation - "people are not intending to take action in the foreseeable future“
  • Contemplation - "people are intending to change in the next 6 months"
  • Preparation - "people are intending to take action in the immediate future“
  • Action - "people have made specific overt modifications in their life styles"
  • Maintenance - "people are working to prevent relapse"
  • Termination - "individuals are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping"

Target group of the campaign:

Car driver, especially member of three lifestyle groups:

  • Fun and performance – work hard, play hard
  • Nature and outdoor oriented (LOHAS)
  • Culture-oriented – enjoyment of arts and good lifestyle


4 million EUR came from national funding for the years 2009 and 2010, Karlsruhe continued the campaign in 2010 and 2011 from the city’s own budget, Kiel ran a reminder campaign in 2011 with 15,000 Euro.

Osnabrück (2012) and Mainz (2013) started with an own campaign based on the campaign Brains on: Engines off.

Organizations responsible for the project:

Funding body:

Federal Environment Ministry

Participants: consortium of contractors

  • The communication campaign has been developed by the consortium of agency fairkehr and velo:konzept (consortium Zero Emission Mobility, ARGE ZEM).
  • The communication agency Tinkerbelle developed the slogans.
  • Local teams were responsible for the implementation of the campaign at city level.

Project term:

2009 - 2010

PR and documentation:

In German language:

Contact person:

Project management

Fairkehr GmbH
Weiherstraße 38
53111 Bonn
Phone +49 228 985 85-45

Velokonzept Saade GmbH
Claudiusstr. 7
10557 Berlin
Phone +49 30 311 6514-17


Logo and claim "Kopf an: Motor aus"

Megalight: "Better you start to sweat than the Polar Caps."
© Rolf Zöllner / Kopf an

Distribution of „Coaching Packs“ in Braunschweig
© Stadt Braunschweig

Poster: „Being good on foot is being good to the climate”

Display: “The only vehicle you need for shopping”

Promotion © ARGE ZEM

Promotion © ARGE ZEM

Citylight poster: "Wow, you look fit! Are you a cyclist or what?"