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MADD still trying to shame kids out of drinking

MADD still trying to shame kids out of drinking


I’m not a fan of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. People look at me funny when I tell them that, but I simply don’t trust their motives. If they were focussed on convincing people not to drink drunk, I’d fully support them. But I tend to agree with Sociologist David J. Hanson that their true goal is nothing short of prohibition.

And so this new campaign tries to frighten teens out of drinking by telling them it will put them into bad situations when they inevitable pass out at a party.

The male one is kind of comical:

MADD – Shaved from Esparza Advertising on Vimeo.

The one featuring a young woman, however, puts her in a much more dangerous situation.

(More after the break.)

In research that might as well be permalinked to this site, The Kellogg School of Management concluded:

“…Viewers already feeling some level of guilt or shame instinctively resist messages that rely on those emotions, and in some cases are more likely to participate in the behavior they’re being warned about.

The reason, said Kellogg marketing professor Nidhi Agrawal, is that people who are already feeling guilt or shame resort to something called “defensive processing” when confronted with more of either, and tend to disassociate themselves with whatever they are being shown in order to lessen those emotions.

And it doesn’t have to be drinking that a viewer is feeling ashamed about in order to render the ads ineffective or damaging. ‘If you’re talking to a student about cheating on an exam, and one of these ads comes up, you can bet they are headed straight to the bar,’ said Ms. Agrawal, who conducted the study along with her Indiana University colleague, Adam Duhacheck.

Given that the shaming, consequence-centric approach is commonplace in any number of ads focused on smoking, steroid usage and sexually transmitted diseases, the ramifications of the findings could be significant. ‘There’s a lot of money spent on these ads that could be put to better use,’ she argues.”

In other words, these MADD ads are following in the footsteps of similar social marketing campaigns that have already proven to be worse than ineffective—even detrimental.

The second ad, which puts the responsibility on the rape victim not to get drunk, is also reminiscent of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s ”Control Tonight” campaign on binge drinking campaign:

MADD still trying to shame kids out of drinking

Of that ad, “The image itself is very triggering for rape victims,” said Julie Mastrine, a junior from Penn State University. “But the message that it’s sending is one of victim-blaming. We live in a society that seems to preach, ‘Don’t get raped,’ instead of, ‘Don’t rape.’”

Following similar protests, that campaign was voluntarily pulled by the advertiser.

Will MADD do the same? I am doubtful. Those mothers have their own agenda.

Related MADD posts:
Drinking and driving can mark you for life
I’m not MADD about these ads
Broken Teens
Amy, Jenny, Jeff and Lisa
Don’t make it a grad to forget

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Esparza Advertising Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Additional credits:
Creative Director: Adam Greenhood
ACD: Jeremy Spencer
Art Director: Zak Rutledge
Production Company: Buffalo Picture House
Director: Felix Thompson
Producer: Gabrielle Nadig
Art Direction: Emmeline Wilks-Dupoise
Edit: Paul Penczner
DP: Brandon Roots

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more