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Consumer Product Safety Commission spends six figures on cheesy 'safety' album for youth

Hip animals are "SAVING LIVES with the POWER of MUSIC" as part of independent agency's Youth Outreach Campaign. Most YouTube streams number in the low thousands in first two weeks.

Published: October 3, 2023 1:45pm

Updated: October 3, 2023 1:52pm

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now in the music business, and taxpayers are footing the bill. 

The independent agency spent about a third of its $300,000 "Youth Outreach Campaign" to produce the six-song album "We're Safety Now Haven't We," a spokesperson told Just the News when asked for the financial figures left out of mainstream news coverage.

"The campaign is intended to highlight hazards that our data tell us impact young people disproportionately, through a medium we know will resonate – music," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The $300,000 "covered the creative development, production, and advertising costs across the entire campaign," and the music is "license-free and free for anyone to download," remix and use to make videos, the spokesperson said. CPSC has "already had requests from educators who want to use it in their curricula."

The cover features a cat holding a smartphone, bird wearing a sunhat and perching on a smoke alarm, fox wearing a bike helmet and dog standing on an ATV with a ski helmet on its rear end, in line with CPSC's meme-heavy X account. It includes a public service announcement "WARNING" label reminiscent of parental advisory warnings on albums with foul language.

A larger background image that includes the album cover features two space unicorns discussing the album, which is floating above the earth. Butterscotch tells a perplexed Dennis that the hip animals are "SAVING LIVES with the POWER of MUSIC!"

CPSC social media specialist Joseph Galbo told Fox TV stations the animals' names are Jackson, "handsome" Ron, Potato and Safety Fox ("formerly known as quarantine fox"), respectively. He said the ungrammatical title was chosen as a nod to the "NOW" series of compilation pop albums from the 1990s as well as a "really fun play on the kind of eternal struggle of making sure that you're safe."

The songs – in English, Spanish or both – promote helmet use ("Protect Ya Noggin"), putting away phones while walking ("Phone Away"), checking smoke alarm batteries and not leaving the stove while cooking ("Se Pone Caliente"), safe use of fireworks ("Going Off Like Fireworks") and riding all-terrain vehicles safely ("Off Road Adventure").

They span genres, with a focus on hip-hop and dance music popular among young people. Each is paired with statistics on related annual injuries and links to further information. The sixth song, largely instrumental with no discernible message, is intended as an homage to an early PSA by the CPSC, Galbo told NPR.

The imagery and themes of the songs are based on the agency's "electronic injury surveillance system," which ranks e-bikes, scooters, ATVs, phones and fire as the top injury sources for young people, according to Galbo. The target age range is 13-24.

Most songs have well under 10,000 plays on YouTube as of Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the videos debuted, with a high of 19,000 for the English version of "Protect Ya Noggin'" and a low of 2,800 for its Spanish version.

CPSC paid a public relations firm – what the spokesperson calls its agency of record – to commission the songs.

Galbo declined to identify the artists who created them, telling NPR they are culturally diverse and have small followings except for one or two who are "fairly well known." The album is labeled "Volume 1" in the hope that CPSC gets funding to make "more albums someday."

The agency is measuring the success of the campaign via YouTube and Soundcloud streams, website downloads, "estimated ad value, and adoption of music for creative purposes by the target audience (number of remixes or use in videos)," the spokesperson told Just the News. Youth Outreach Campaign engagements will be reported in its annual report.

"We are very pleased with the public response so far and look forward to continuing to promote these life-saving safety messages," the spokesperson said.