Campaigns case study: Drink-drivers count cost of conviction

The Department for Transport launched its latest THINK! drink-drive campaign in a bid to change the attitudes and behaviour of drivers who get behind the wheel after a few drinks as they do not relate to warnings about accidents.

Drafted in: Security men guard the £50,000 pint before the police take over custody
Drafted in: Security men guard the £50,000 pint before the police take over custody

Campaign    The £50,000 pint
Client           Department for Transport
PR team       Forster Communications
Timescale    February-March 2013
Budget         £30,000


  • To deliver the message that an accident is not the only consequence of drink-driving
  • To inform target audiences of the ramifications of a drink-drive conviction
  • To form ongoing partnerships with regional police forces for collaborative message delivery

Strategy and plan
Forster focused on what matters most to many people in the current financial climate – the impact on their pocket. A partnership was formed with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, which calculated the total personal cost of a drink-driving conviction was £20,000-£50,000. This was based on fines, legal costs, rise in insurance premiums and possible job losses faced by those who are convicted.

Forster used the calculation to create the concept of the £50,000 pint. A visual stunt was designed, with a standard pint of beer on a pedestal, surrounded by ropes and guarded by security.

The research and stunt were sold in to national press on the morning of the launch and the pint was unveiled in London by road safety minister Stephen Hammond during a media photocall. Mocked-up scratchcards, which revealed the consequences of a drink-driving conviction, were designed and printed by Forster and distributed during the event.

The national launch took place on a Friday, to coincide with the start of the weekend’s drinking activities. The launch was supported by real-life stories of convicted drink drivers. This was backed up by a focus on broadcast coverage, with a convicted driver talking about his experience on morning TV. Additional support was provided through a partnership with the AA.

Relationships were developed with regional police forces, who were briefed on the key messages and replaced security men in guarding the pint.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign generated 82 pieces of media coverage, including 13 national hits and blanket regional coverage in and around the cities where the activity took place. National coverage included 12 minutes on ITV’s Daybreak and a double-page spread in The Daily Telegraph. It was also the leading story on the newsletter to its 2,732,226 members. Message delivery was ranked by the Westminster City Council evaluation model to indicate the extent key messages had reached target audiences and 93 per cent of coverage was positive and clearly conveyed the key messages.

The campaign won commendations from every local police force involved, while three additional regional forces requested activity in their area after seeing the media coverage in other regions. In total, 6,000 scratchcards were distributed.


Second opinion

Ralph Jackson, director, Lansons Communications

Forster’s campaign for the Department for Transport had a simple, but compelling, message: drinking and driving could cost you up to £50,000.

The campaign used the device of the expensive pint to highlight the true economic consequences for casual, but probably habitual, drinkers who think the odd drink or two is OK. 

The campaign pointed out the severe economic consequences, with media picking up on the serious message of the financial equation. The Department for Transport was central to the launch, but the involvement of other stakeholders made for a broader, more interesting, regional story too.

Coverage was impressive for a modest, but hard-hitting campaign, while the Friday in March timing outside of the seasonal drink/driving campaigns hit home with target audiences. 

The use of case studies also underlined the plight, and stigma, of those drivers caught. It would have been good to see drink firms involved too, but this was still an impressive campaign execution.

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