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Alcohol: Know your limits campaign, the home office, and the missing community

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

The Home Office’s campaigns haven’t been doing too badly recently. I thought their Batman vulnerability ad was fab. So it was great to meet some of the people involved last week at the launch of the Know Your Limits campaign. Know your Limits is a campaign targeting 18 – 24 year olds to reduce binge drinking.

The campaign includes a couple of radio adverts, three videos (also going up on YouTube), publicity, and a shop-front exhibition close to Covent Garden. I’ve included the videos at the end of this post.

Here’s my biggest take on it. I think that the adverts are good, shocking and memorable. I think that on TV or radio they could well make people think twice the next time they go out. I’m not so sure that this will be a permanent attitude change. Memories tend to fade quickly.

I also don’t think the videos will go viral. It’s in the motivations of people. You pass on a video which you think another person will want to see, that has value to the recipient. No-one will pass on a video of someone else urinating, vomiting or getting in fights – largely because it’s not appealing and also because it’s not ‘that’ shocking (I mean, we see it every Saturday night, do we really want to see it during the week?).

I’m a big believer in online communities. I think bringing people together to create meaningful relationships is a great way to shape attitudes. I think there should be a budget towards developing communities of people that don’t binge drink. Communities of people that still go out but then do something else afterwards. Maybe they watch the sun rise, or play some music together at home, or watch a film.

Finding people that are doing what you want, and then telling their story is a great way to affect attitude change. You can have people sharing their post-club pictures on flickr, discussing nights out they’ve just had, uploading their mobile video clips or even playing their PS3’s against each other. All of which requires them to drink a little less. These are some of the stories that need telling, and the communities that need forming. Promote what can be done if you don’t binge drink, and let interested people join together and recruit others (aside: anyone else ever had a morning bbq on a hill at sunrise?). Start small and grow big.

Still, they have tough competition. On Facebook there are groups called Binge Drinking Appreciation Society with over 1500 members, There’s Nothing Wrong with Binge Drinking with nearly 1200 members and the Canadian Binge Drinking Team number just over 1000 members. I hope the adverts work, I think in the short-term the Home Office will get the results they want. But I worry if it’s enough to make a real difference.

You can read what others are saying here and here.

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