I don’t usually like Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaigns because I find they’re preaching to the choir by damning the offenders rather than providing a solution.
I hate drunk drivers too (there was another horrible killing by an alleged one here last weekend) but I also worry that the negative approach is not what keeps drinkers from driving and drivers from drinking. For one thing, many of them do not think they are in bad enough shape to kill anyone, so they will defensively process the message as not applying to them. None of them makes a rational decision to kill or injure others; they simply don’t see the connection.
This campaign is hard-hitting and emotional. But it appeals to (or rather, “incenses”) the people who don’t drive impaired. WE see the drunk driver as a murderer, and want to see that person vilified. But they are not all the same. The average “episodic” impaired driver sees himself or herself as a normal person who can handle the situation. The repeat offender is often an alcoholic who cannot be stopped by anything but punishment, surveillance and treatment.
Social marketing is best at reinforcing behaviours people already believe in, so these ads could help remind someone at risk of “accidentally” drinking and driving to leave the keys home tonight. And if they’ve done that, they’ve helped. But the problem of drunk driving is a complex one that requires more than a metaphor to solve.
Two more ads after the break.
Innocean Worldwide, Canada
I Believe in Advertising
Drunk driving - Mothers Against Drunk Driving