Few briefs test an agency’s stamina and creativity more than the
one for the annual TV campaign to cut the toll of drink-related deaths
on Britain’s roads at Christmas.
Indeed, the drink-drive assignment is one of those rare accounts that
actually seems to benefit from a regular change of agency because of the
exceptional demands it makes on a creative department.
Finding new and innovative ways to hammer home a familiar message can be
draining and result in advertising that reveals a bankruptcy of
The task is made harder by the need to get the tone and balance of the
campaign right. Soft pedal the message and people fail to pay
Overdo the shock tactics and they are so repelled that the advertising
is equally ineffective.
So full marks to Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for taking the campaign into
new territory by looking at drink- driving through the eyes of those
convicted of having killed as a result of it.
The most striking thing about this initiative is that these drivers are
everyman figures. They are fathers, husbands and workmates whose own
lives have been shattered by destroying others. It is their very
ordinariness which makes them truly shocking. The message is that if it
can happen to them, it can happen to anybody.
Slowly, but surely, the number of drink-related fatal accidents is
Advertising alone cannot claim credit for this and its influence will
always be hard to quantify. Yet there is nobody who could argue that it
has not played a significant role in saving lives and will continue to
It’s an uplifting thought. What’s more, the drink-drive campaign is a
most eloquent answer to the critics who still see advertising as some
kind of mysterious sorcery, a malevolent manipulator and a social curse.