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Drinkaware – Hands (The best pace to drink at is your own)

With our client, we launched a radical new strategy in 2009.  This campaign targeted society as a whole not the individual drinker, leveraged cultural permission not individual shame and targeted public drunkenness not excessive drinking.  We believed that a culture shift would drive behaviour shift, not vice versa.

The “Had Enough” and “CCTV” campaigns recorded exceptional results: 86% brand awareness (93% amongst the core target market) and 78% advertising recall amongst 18 – 29 year old, out-performing public service, alcohol and non-fmcg service norms. The results also showed significant shifts in perceptions and attitudes to excessive drinking and public drunkenness.  We also saw marked improvements in claimed behaviour, with both claimed alcohol abuse and hangover incidence declining by over 10%.  Our findings were endorsed by most recent Eurobarometer Report which noted that although Ireland still has above EU average levels of binge drinking, it is also amongst the countries that “have seen a decrease in the percentage of those who have 5 or more drinks at least once a week and an increase in the percentage who say they have that many drinks less often than once a month or never”. Such was the extent of the campaign’s success that we saw we could move into the next phase of activity: directly targeting drinker behaviour.

Campaign objectives wanted to talk to young people about sensible drinking – not a conversation many young people were all that interested in having. Specifically, wanted more young people to:
–  adopt a more moderate style of drinking, by promoting the benefits of a slower pace
–  visit for support, guidelines and information.

The challenge

We knew that brands operating in popular, motivating categories (e.g. alcoholic drinks) were finding it challenging to engage this audience online. So, what chance did a new brand like operating in a de-motivational category have? Clearly, information alone would not be enough. We needed a big, motivating platform to engage young people from which we could then deliver information to modify their behaviour and attitudes

The solution

We conducted research groups. We observed drinking amongst the target market. We consulted with a social anthropologist, an ex Assistant Garda Commissioner, a nightclub owner, a psychologist and an addiction counsellor. All this research confirmed that drinking is primarily a social bonding exercise. Using iPlan, our proprietary planning process, we noted that, when drinking in social groups, most people conform to the pace of the group. And that pace tends to be set by the fastest drinker. So what if we targeted pace? What if we could sensitise people to the fact that they are drinking at somebody else’s pace. If we could empower more people to drink at their own pace, more people would drink less and avoid binges. Research enthusiastically endorsed the new approach. Respondents found it to be honest, insightful, relevant and helpful.

Using Language’s Why–Can–How planning model we created  “Hands”  a tv-led campaign that extended to video-on-demand, cinema and radio, along with extensive outdoor and innovative use of social media.   The campaign communicates why, how and that the target audience can adopt a better pace of drinking in Ireland.   All media carried a clear call to action to visit

The results

85% among the target audience, significantly higher vs average, exceeding Millward Brown norms

– One in eight deemed the campaign effective in encouraging them to rethink the pace of their drinking
– Reappraisal of personal pacing behaviour
– Three in four agree they’re more aware of the benefits of pacing.  Over two in three agree they’re thinking about pace more than they used to.

Web traffic:
Significant increase in mention of website for responsible drinking information.
– Website traffic increased – hits increased by 60%, visits increased by 66% in the first month of the new campaign.