DrinkWise is an alcohol industry backed organisation that commenced in 2005, it has received some government funding since its conception, however, the most crucial aspect to note is the fact that it is run by the alcohol industry and not the government as that recontextualises its purposes and intentions. Prior to my research I had no idea that DrinkWise was not a purely government run scheme and it clarified some of the arguably dubious intentions behind a few of their campaigns. I have decided to analyse their ‘How to drink properly’ campaign which was targeted for my demographic: young adults ranging from 18-24 years of age.
DrinkWise’s ‘How to drink properly’ campaign consists mostly of social media and video tools which use stylish animated clips to encourage restrained alcohol consumption. However, this campaign has had mixed reviews with people lauding it for its clever stylistic choice to reach a greater audience while health experts have denounced it for glorifying drinking at all. I think the greatest oversight by this campaign has been the face of the campaign being a suave Bond-like figure which thus limits the audience to young men, excluding women from the discussion and allowing blatant sexist undertones, such as the following image which was coupled with narration that suggests ‘drinking properly’ makes you sexually attractive to women.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Australian Catholic University and the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2017), shows that after reviewing DrinkWise campaigns, of ‘How to drink properly’ was included, 52% of respondents perceived the meaning of ‘drinking properly’ as “Knowing your limits”, meanwhile 24% identified it as “looking cool when you drink”. Most importantly, this does raise an issue about whether the message of the campaign was delivered correctly as almost a quarter of respondents have linked “proper” drinking with “coolness”.
However, the use of ‘cool’ as a design element to garner attention is not unique to this campaign and I would argue is still a crucial tool in designing a campaign that generates effective and deep discussion as it can be a potent tool for generating deeper social change, if handled correctly. Needless to say, this campaign achieved widespread success and the controversy surrounding it actually incited further discussion that may not have been achieved had it not been so divisive. Despite all of this, according to a recent and extensive review of similar campaigns, they concluded that they “found no impact on alcohol consumption, consistent with the conclusion of a previous review that there should be modest expectations of behaviour change from such campaigns” (Young et al. 2018)
Thus, I would argue that this campaign was one that missed the mark on many occasions and would have benefited from a more diverse panel that especially included women in the discussion. As the research suggests, I would agree that this campaign has not changed binge drinking behaviours and it might even have some damaging impacts by re-defining ‘proper’ drinking as ‘cool’.
Carter, A. & Hall, W. 2014, ‘DrinkWise’s cynical campaign shouldn’t fool anyone’, The Conversation, 28 February, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://theconversation.com/drinkwises-cynical-campaign-shouldnt-fool-anyone-23813>.
DrinkWise 2016, How to drink properly, animation, YouTube, viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXwUAWKkFiY>.
Jones, S.C., Hall, S. & Kypri, K. 2017, ‘Should I drink responsibly, safely or properly? Confusing messages about reducing alcohol-related harm’ PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 9, viewed 19 November 2019, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5608266/>.
Young, B., Lewis, S., Katikireddi, S.V., Bauld, L., Stead, M., Angus, K., Campbell, M., Hilton, S., Thomas, J., Hinds, K., Ashie, A. & Langley, T. 2018, ‘Effectiveness of mass media campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption and harm: a systematic review’, Oxford University Press: Alcohol and Alcoholism, vol. 53, no. 3, viewed 19 November 2019, <https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/53/3/302/4796878>.