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Should Drunk Driving Ads Be Funny?

Topics: Popular Media | Add A CommentBy admin | December 30, 2010

Personally, I think humor can be more effective in designated driver commercials than horrific statistics and images, but does anyone really think a talking urinal cake will prevent drunk driving?

Years ago, before the idea of designated drivers was familiar in the US, my friends would often choose me as the driver at the end of a night of clubbing, because I had a miraculous ability to appear sober with ten or fifteen cocktails in me. When the concept of designated drivers was popularized in the late 80′s, my friends would actually joke about how my job finally had an official name. We thought this was pretty funny for a long time. That is, until the first of our friends died in a drunk driving accident. I’ve personally lost three friends to drunk driving, and even more to drug addiction, so I don’t take the topic lightly. But I feel there’s a reason you kind of have to if you want to drive real change on the issue, and here it is: This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes. That’s one every 50 minutes. But probably more shocking than numbers like that is the fact that organizations like MADD seem to think that scaring the general populace with these kinds of numbers will somehow stop people from drinking and driving. In my opinion, it won’t. We’ve pointed out before that studies have determined that telling people to stop smoking won’t work, and may even make them smoke. And the fact is, drinking and driving is based on a similar problem. Any sentient human with a driver’s license in America in 2010 knows that drinking and driving will not only get you in serious legal trouble, but may actually kill someone. The real problem is that this sentient human we’re talking about no longer exists when they walk out of a bar after a hard night’s drinking and get in a car. There’s no point in aiming an ad campaign at a person who doesn’t exist, and for all practical purposes, that drunk person never saw the shocking ad about the results of drunk driving, and might even laugh it off if they did. In my opinion, there are only two¬† approaches to this deeply-embedded social problem that might prove effective. One would be to legislate sentencing so stern that no-one would ever think of driving after drinking, i.e.: a life sentence for first-time offenders. There are two obvious problems with that notion. One is that our already overcrowded prisons couldn’t handle the load of the several years of sentences that would be required to make the law work. The other is that – as evident in the old joke about Ted Kennedy saying “we’ll drive off that bridge when we get to it” when asked to make a final decision on a piece of legislation – the legislation itself would bog down for years. Another possible – and I think more effective – approach is using humor to table a topic that otherwise generates a tremendous conscious resistance on the part of those who need to hear the message most, i.e.: problem drinkers. It is with some discomfort that I say that I think one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in a while is the Wanna Go Home With Me Tonight? campaign created by Anheuser Busch. Although some take issue with the fact that it plays on jokes about being drunk and relies on sexual overtones, the people who get up in arms about those otherwise legitimate criticisms aren’t the people we need to reach, and behind the adolescent teaser of the campaign, they do direct users to more content and social networking tools that can spread the message. Admittedly, they fall short on useful detail in their “Great Party Guide”, but if you’re throwing a party and serving liquor, hopefully you’re not looking to a global beer conglomerate for hosting guidance. So this all reminds me, I meant to ask. Who are YOU going home with New Year’s Eve? Whoever they are, I hope they’re sober if they’re driving. For a little more drunk driving humor, check out the video clips below. We also included our own little sobriety test at the end.

This Black Thai PSA Shows How Carried Away One Can Get When They Drink Too Much:

This Budweiser spot plays on the cliched “Hot Chicks Dig Beer Drinkers” motif

That is, if your idea of a “hot chick” is a Jersery girl caked with bronzer who sits at bars alone until closing time and only cares what kind of car you drive:

The Scots Have A Unique Approach To Sobriety Testing:

This Holiday Inn Express spot kind of scrambles the message:

Does anyone really think a talking urinal cake will prevent drunk driving?

Here’s our own little sobriety test based on the Budweiser theme. If you wanna go home with this person, you probably should. You’re almost certainly drunk.