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Pint of best? That’ll be £50,000, sir

22 April 2013
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How would you incentivise young men not to drink and drive? Tasked by the Department for Transport to develop a PR programme, Forster decided to hit them in their wallets.

Over the years, many a creative approach to convey drink drive messaging has been developed, with varying success. When Forster was asked to create a PR programme to contribute to a change in attitudes and behaviour of specific audiences who have remained resistant to the message and continue to drink and drive, we faced a particular challenge.  We had no data on drink drive accidents or convictions to work with. The drink driving statistics won’t be out until this coming winter. Forster had to produce a campaign without them and implement it quickly and successfully.

So, we formed a partnership with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, who calculated the total personal cost of a drink driving conviction based on fines, legal costs, rise in insurance premiums and possible job losses faced by those who are convicted. This calculation result was £20,000 – £50,000 and the ‘£50,000 pint’ was born. This approach supported the messaging in the ‘consequences’ TV advert running at the same time.

Forster used the calculation to articulate the concept of the £50,000 pint. We designed a visual stunt, with a standard pint of beer encased in glass on a pedestal, surrounded by velvet ropes and guarded by security. The pint was ‘unveiled’ in London by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond in a media photocall. As another way to engage the audience, we also designed mocked up ‘scratch-cards’, which revealed the consequences of a drink driving conviction.

The national launch took place on a Friday, aiming to reach weekend drinkers and deliver media coverage over the weekend. Media activity was driven by the real life story of a convicted drink driver, Jeremy.  This peer to peer  storytelling to deliver Government safety messages  was critical to reach the target audience in a way that would be heard.

The national launch was followed by regional rollout activity in four cities throughout the UK. We developed relationships with regional police forces, who took part in the photocall by guarding the pint and acted as media spokespeople. These partnerships, brokered by Forster, were essential to successful regional media activity.

Audience engagement was driven by police and Forster reps encouraging passers-by to pose by the £50,000 pint, with the police officers for photos on their camera phones, while scratch-cards were distributed.

The £50,000 pint generated 82 pieces of media coverage, including 13 national stories and blanket regional coverage in and around the four cities. National coverage included 12 minutes on Daybreak and a double page spread in the Telegraph and stories in The Times, The Sun and The Mirror. The campaign was also the leading story on the newsletter to 2,732,226 members.

Did it work? Time will tell. The only proper measure is the behaviour and attitude of drink drivers.

The campaign certainly won commendations from every local police force involved – and they should know. Three additional regional forces have requested activity in their area after seeing the media coverage in other regions. A total of 6,000 scratch-cards were distributed to members of the public in chosen cities across the UK. Message delivery was ranked by the Westminster evaluation model to indicate the extent key messages had reached target audiences – and 93% of coverage ranked the highest possible score.

Last but not least, Jeremy has since set up his own campaign, including a Facebook page, schools visits and help for fellow convicted drivers.