Client: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Washington, DC)
Client: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Washington,
PR Team: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Washington, DC)
Campaign: You Drink & Drive. You Lose.
Time Frame: December 1999 and ongoing
Budget: dollars 300,000 annually (including dollars 25,000 each for
December 1999 and June 2000 media events)
Having ’one for the road’ sounds terrific at a holiday party brimming
with good times, good friends and good cheer. But that extra drink can
be an expressway to a dead end: in 1998, nearly 16,000 lives were lost
in automobile accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers.
With its recently unveiled ’You Drink & Drive. You Lose’ campaign, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to reduce
the impaired-driving fatality rate to 11,000 by 2005. Working with
Ogilvy PR, the campaign depends on more than just DC news conferences to
achieve its death-defying goal. ’Success,’ insists Ogilvy account
director Lisa Kovner, ’is defined by change at the local level.’
NHTSA’s target audiences are the three highest risk groups: 21- to
34-year-olds, underage drinkers and repeat offenders. Kovner says the
big challenge is that people think such a tragedy will not happen to
them - but NHTSA figures show one in three people will be affected
either by being in an accident themselves or knowing someone who’ll be
Publicity coming out of DC is important. But Kovner says ’local groups
had been left on their own to do their own thing.’ More emphasis is
being placed on developing partnerships and where local groups dovetail
their efforts with the NHTSA message.
Media events in DC in December and June were timed just before holiday
partying started. December’s event launched the campaign. Mothers
Against Drunk Driving had regularly sponsored an annual event to
highlight the ’National Sobriety Checkpoint Week’ before Labor Day
weekend, but moved it to July 4th to align with NHTSA’s plans. Both
events drew strong media coverage.
To better assist local groups, Ogilvy produced a How-to Guide for
Planning and Publicizing Impaired Driving Enforcement Efforts that was
distributed to local law enforcement agencies and community
organizations. Included were sample news releases, town hall meeting
schedules, op-eds and advice on how to conduct media relations and build
partnerships. Advertising layouts for print PSAs warning that police
forces are operating sobriety checkpoints also were included.
NHTSA is working closely with the state transportation departments of
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. ’By working
directly with the states, we can streamline messaging, coordinate events
with national activities and provide materials that give a framework for
the states as they work with local government or civic organizations,’
’We’ve always done a lot of education around the issue, but it wasn’t as
consolidated,’ says Spencer Moore, project director for Georgia’s
Operation Zero Tolerance program.
Official fatality figures for December and July are not available. But
statistics showing a 12% decrease over 1998 in fatalities for the
December 17-19 weekend preceding Christmas are interpreted by NHTSA as a
hint of early success. Over 50 million print media impressions were
Three hundred TV stories were broadcast for December. Results are still
being monitored for July 4th weekend, but over 600 TV stories were
Kovner attributes the rise in TV coverage to increased effectiveness by
The campaign is six months old and will run until 2005. Greater use of
e-mail and the Internet is planned.