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Safely Home with Diversified

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Children are the best teachers. Their honesty and innocence can impart lessons that can take adults a lot longer to convey. Diversified’s “safely home,” campaign pays homage to this notion. The new brand, complete with a new logo, features children on 30 buses, and are perfect traveling billboards adorning the end caps (back of the buses), reminding everyone of Diversified’s emphasis on safety.

The 40-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring four beautiful children relays messages like, “I never run in front of the bus; not even to catch it – if I’m late.” And, “When my dad gets on the bus, he holds the railing for safety;” as well as, “When I go shopping with my mom, she puts her cell phone away, and we look both ways before getting on and off the bus,” to name a few.

The PSA was produced by Madeline Ell, a Vancouver based videographer, video strategist and storyteller. Her past clients have included lululemon, Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, RBC, Staples, and Sportchek.

Ell explains the inspiration, and some of the surprising elements behind the video, which also places an emphasis on patience, and ends with the poignant reminder: “I need, you need, we need to get safely home.”

“I’ve seen a lot of corporate videos, commercials and PSAs; we all have. For me the ones that hit me the hardest are the ones where the information is coming from an unlikely source. With safety at the foreground and getting our families “safely home” being the ultimate message, it was a no-brainer to me that this message needed to come from children,” explains Ell, who has been in the creative business for eight years.

“Children have the power to transcend boundaries that we as adults have placed on ourselves with regards to how we interpret, understand or ultimately obey information. I wanted to share this message in a way that people listened to and in a way that would grab the attention of those we most needed to listen. When you think to yourself, “Oh, that kids’ dad works up north and takes the bus,” or, “I was shopping with my daughter the other day and jaywalked downtown...she’s right,” you start to change the thinking from it being a typical PSA to something that’s closer to each and every viewers’ heart.”

The video took a day to shoot, including a photo session featuring children in hard hats, reflector jackets, and dresses. The gargantuan photos adorn five unique bus end caps; and the project kept Ell on her toes.

“When you work on set with kids you have to be organized, fun and most importantly fast. You get what you get and often times you’re not going to get it twice so you need to make sure you get it right the first time.”

Additionally, the “safely home” PSA stands out due to its diversity making it all the more relatable. Ell relied on her friends’ children to cast the message.

“Shooting the kids in their costumes was definitely a highlight of this project for me. Kids just want to dress up and be super heroes all the time, and why not let them? We all see our children, or our friend’s children at home dressed up like princesses or warriors so why wouldn’t I take that authenticity onto the screen? Directing children is a bit of a niche and you need to work around outfits, snacks, tantrums and an inspiring sense of wonderment. Kids always want to know how the camera works and why there are so many lights. I love showing them before and after photos or videos of themselves, or have them direct me in front of the camera.

I was really impressed on this shoot when one of our kids fainted on set because of locked knees and over-excitement, which is always scary when you’re behind the camera because you can’t see it coming as easily. She bounced back after some orange juice and cookies and was ready to go. She was a star.”

As for driving the message home, Ells says she took special care to make this message reach its destination.

“It’s really just our hope that these types of projects can have an impact on people. We’re over-stimulated as a society and so anything you put out there needs to be thoughtfully crafted if it’s going to make an impact. I hope that the family feel of Pacific Western Transportation came through in this project and that we’re making an important dent on safety statistics in Canada.”

Stephen Evans, Vice President of Safety, Pacific Western Group of Companies, which owns Diversified, agrees. “It is truly amazing to see the impact of these two simple words ‘safely home.’”

Diversified began operating in Fort McMurray in 1964 just as oil was first extracted by the Great Canadian Oil Sands. It is the region’s leading employee transportation service company, “a leader in “People Transportation,’” according to the group.

Diversified owns four full-service maintenance facilities in Fort McMurray and one in Fort McKay.

Back to the “safely home,” initiative. Diversified ensured full attention was given to engaging employees when it came to rolling out the campaign earlier this year. Staff was shuttled from various shops around town, and senior administration made it a point to explain the new campaign’s conformity to Diversified’s 10 core values. These include: safety, customer service, resourcefulness, integrity, positive attitude, teamwork, loyalty, accountability, respect, and dedication, with safety being the number one guiding force.

Director of Communications for Diversified, Maribeth Wilson, talks about the employee events around the roll out: “I’m so proud to be part of the Diversified family and to share our new message of ‘safely home’ - a message that speaks to our family values of caring, of being emotionally engaged in ensuring our co-workers are safe and supporting each other through tough times and happy times. Safely Home really is much more than a message, though – it is our culture.”

“Our maintenance facilities are strategically located to serve our oil sands clients throughout the Wood Buffalo region. All facilities feature state-of-the-art bus wash systems, drive through service bays and fully-trained maintenance professionals to ensure our vehicles are well-maintained at all times. In addition, Diversified also has operations centres located in Fort McMurray, where dispatch personnel are available 24/7 to respond to you last minute changes and emergencies,” Wilson continues.

Mark Hannah, Vice President Oil Sands adds, “We have seen significant growth in our employee engagement since the introduction of ‘safely home.’ This engagement is driving our journey.”

Speaking of driving, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), took the “safely home,” campaign further with their bus provider, Prevost. Based in Quebec, “Prevost is a leading North American manufacturer of premium touring coaches and conversion coaches for high-end motorhomes and corporate or specialty needs,” according to their website.

PWT has been a Prevost client since 1975. Michael Power, Marketing & Communications Director for Prevost shared the process of applying the new branding to the buses.

“Working in partnership with Prevost, PWT has helped us to make improvements to our coaches, which in turn allows them to provide safe and reliable service to the Fort McMurray community. We made undercarriage modifications, (implemented) welded rail system for seat-belts. They pushed for three-point seat belts – the first and largest operator in Canada to do so,” explained Power.

The buses feature an electronic stability program that “compares the driver’s intentions with actual vehicle movement hundreds of times per second. It is the first system with rollover, and under/oversteer protection for outstanding stability on the road, as well as selectively applies brakes at individual wheels based on driving conditions and vehicle input to help avoid potentially dangerous situations,” shared Power.

Other bus features include less heat in the engine compartment, reducing the risk of burns, safer maintenance, and ground level protection against burns/fires. In addition, they have wheelchair lifts equipped with optimal safety position for passengers, Power added.

Diversified also ensured the “safely home” logo was on the driver’s seat, along with an international symbol of seat belts – a visual reminder on every seat.

“We’ve also added the northern lights, the bison, spruce trees, rivers, and a compass to the seat’s fabric. All of this engages the community, and pays homage to our life in the north,” Wilson added.

“Diversified has an R-Factor of 0.047, the industry average in Alberta is 0.246. R-factor (risk factor) is the regulatory calculation of a commercial carrier’s safety performance history with the violations (i.e. hours of service). The R-factor is based on a calculation of mechanical inspections, regulatory rotations (HOS, etc.) and motor vehicle collisions,” she noted.

“The buses also contain an ‘In Vehicle Monitoring System,’ which combines an electronic device in a vehicle, or fleet of vehicles, with purpose-designed computer software at least at one operational base to enable the owner or a third party to track the vehicle’s location, collecting data in the process from the field and deliver it to the base of operation.”


This monitoring system:

  • Provides active feedback to the operator
  • A tool to coach vehicle operators with desired behaviours
  • Generally allows for self correction
  • Captures behavioural trends
  • Identifies areas of improvement
  • Identifies pockets of excellence


Jude Groves, Director of Health, Safety and Environment at Diversified, sums up the campaign well.

“At the end of the day, when you go home to your families, ‘safely home’ is our commitment and our measure of success. In the wee hours of the morning when we all start our day it’s the mantra we’re known by – the chant that Fort Mc­Murray hears when they see our buses and talk to our employees. Safely Home. It’s what we do.”


FAST facts:

  • Preventable collision stats are best in the class


Preventable Collisions per million miles:

  • 2013 actual =12.8
  • 2014 actual = 8.6
  • An improvement of OVER 32%


Diversified’s on-time delivery rate is 99.7%

  • Over 1,000 employees including drivers, shop personnel and operations and administrative personnel


DTL at a glance:

  • 400 coaches, 300 site service vehicles and 20 shuttles
  • 700 drivers, 190 shop personnel and 130 operations personnel
  • 5 million passengers transported annually
  • Largest Canadian-owned fleet in Canada



Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.