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Driving out Drinking and Driving.

Drink and Drive


A couple of weeks ago the ad above started a discussion in Singapore about its effectiveness.

The debate was over the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad that called out the person featured as fictitious.

There’s even an on-line poll on this and so far the results seem pretty even.

However for me the this evoked an older discussion I had with someone years ago about this subject.

Firstly I believe a large proportion of ads on this important subject are created with an eye on the jury at ad festivals and are not really intended to have any effect.

Here two ads I spotted on-line

One ad I don’t understand and the other is obviously just a brand ad, in the garb of ‘Public safety’.

Actually I have no issue with this type of advertising as their intent is crystal clear. There are some more here should you be interested. They are very clever, very creative and are seldom intended to change a behaviour.

My question is more with the kind of ads that I showed right at the beginning.

The person who drinks knows all the facts of the situation.

Drinking and driving is illegal. It is one of the more serious traffic violations out there.

Drinking and driving is dangerous.

Drinking and driving can kill/harm you or those in the car with you or others on the road.

Yet there is a proportion of people who insist on drinking and driving.

The question therefore becomes, if you want to affect change in behaviour what do you do.

One of the biggest obstacles to change is what I call the ‘life insurance’ challenge. Few people take life insurance early in life, as death is what happens to others. Hence in many countries governments incentivise buying policies!

Similarly drinking and driving accidents is what happens to others. We are super drivers. (On an aside, during my trips to India I have noticed that motorcycle riders have their helmets on the petrol tank, on the back seat, on their elbow..nearly anywhere but on their head. After all, ‘I ride well so I don’t need to wear a helmet’)

The barrier to change is not logical, it is emotional/psychological.

Hence using logic to overcome these barriers is futile.

Alternate means to deliver this message need to be identified so that they are effective.

I recall reading about a campaign that had some chemical in the urinal so that when one took a piss in the bathroom the colour changed if the alcohol level in the blood was higher than the allowed limit. Now isn’t that neat. The message sneaks up and hits you on the head.

This TV commercial running in Singapore also delivers the message, albeit differently. If you don’t drive to drink, you won’t drink and drive.

I believe another way to achieve the objective is to talk to the influencers. Partners/spouses can play a big role in changing behaviour.

At any party there is a spouse or partner keeping an eye on the amount of alcohol being consumed by the other. Can not this audience be addressed in some fashion to make them play a more active role in controlling the problem?

Example : ‘If he’s had more than two, call a cab’. Or ‘Call the Chivas Regal chauffeur help line to drive you and your spouse home’ etc

Might spouses even think more favorably of brands that are seen as ‘considerate’ of family welfare?

Doing the same old thing, of telling the consumer that consumption is bad, is not going to cut it. Just look at the cigarette industry for learnings!

Surprising the person at the point of consumption to change immediate behaviour, a la urinals etc, or dialing up communications to the influencer group are routes to be explored aggressively.

I expect results to be surprisingly strong.

Do you have any learnings to share?

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