Campaign: Herts demonstrates the dangers of drink driving

Read what happened in Hertfordshire County Council's campaign to combat drink-driving.

Campaign Beer Goggles
Client Hertfordshire County Council
PR team In-house
Timescale Summer 2006
Budget £3,000

Responsible drinking campaigns tend to run during the run-up to Christmas. But when Hertfordshire County Council discovered that drink-driving incidents actually increase during the summer months in its area, it decided to combat the perception that drink-driving is a ‘Christmas-only issue'.

Objectives
To promote drink-driving as a summer problem and relay the Department for Transport's message that ‘You can't calculate your alcohol limits'.

Strategy and Plan
The biggest challenge facing the in-house PR team was that, in publicity terms, drink-driving is often seen by the public as an ‘old' issue about which there is nothing left to say. To counter this, the in-house team came up with Beer Goggles - a play on the joke that the more people drink, the more they can not see straight (often used as an excuse for waking up next to unlikely strangers on the morning after).

The campaign turned the joke on its head by highlighting the dangers of driving with impaired vision. The PR team produced and distributed cardboard 3D-style glasses that distort the wearer's vision.

The glasses were given away at  shopping malls, with local press informed beforehand (journalists were sent the spectacles by post).

At the malls, passers-by were invited to take part in various themed activities, such as operating a remote-control car while wearing the goggles to show how blurred eyesight affects the ability to carry out simple tasks.

The target audience was deliberately wide because although 17 to 30-year-olds  feature highly in drink-driving casualty statistics, many older people erroneously believe they can have a couple of drinks and drive.

The PR team approached local Pubwatch organisations (voluntary groups that work to ensure the safety of drinking venues) to run soft-drink promotions at public houses: shoppers could take their Beer Goggles into pubs and get a free soft drink.

Measurement and Evaluation
Features and interviews were broadcast on local radio, including a live interview on BBC 3 Counties and a broadcast from Watford for Mercury FM's Drive Time show.

The campaign achieved print coverage in seven of Hertfordshire's ten districts - such as in The Hemel Gazette and Hertfordshire Star. It even achieved out-of-county coverage, in the Enfield Independent.

In addition, road-safety officers spoke to more than 400 members of the public at the malls, exceeding their expectations.

Results
The Hertfordshire PR team says the campaign achieved three times the target coverage, 100 per cent of which was positive. Evaluation, handled in-house, showed that 67 per cent of respondents agreed they should not drink anything before driving.

Although the Beer Goggles were limited to Hertfordshire, a number of other local authorities have since
expressed interest in adopting the idea.

Angela Knight, chief reporter at St Albans Observer, says: ‘The press release was hard to ignore. Nobody could argue that drink driving is not an important subject, and the "goggles" gave the story a nice angle. The release was supported with statistics, which helped to flesh out the story.'

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