How one organization is tackling underage drinking

Responsibility.org is targeting individuals and businesses that might illegally supply minors with alcohol.

Campaign: We Don't Serve Teens
Companies: Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility aka Responsibility.org
Agency Partners: Global Situation Room and Porter Novelli (earned media); Actual Size Creative (creative designs); and BrandMuscle (channel marketing automation).
Duration: November 15 - December 31, 2022

In 2021, the number of teens who drank alcohol decreased significantly, according to a National Institute on Drug Abuse survey. That year, 28% of 10th graders reported using alcohol in the past year, as compared to 40% in 2020.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit that advocates against drunk driving and underage drinking, wanted that progress to continue. It relaunched its We Don't Serve Teens campaign in advance of the night before Thanksgiving, or Blackout Wednesday, when there is a spike in alcohol consumption and drunk driving accidents. 

The Federal Trade Commission first conducted the campaign in 2006.

Strategy

The nonprofit, also known as Responsibility.org, promoted the slogan, “Don’t give underage drinking an excuse,” targeted at individuals or businesses that might illegally supply minors with alcohol.

The message “reminds adults, companies, businesses and organizations that there is no excuse for bending or breaking the laws when it comes to the legal drinking age,” Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Responsibility.org, stated in an email to PRWeek.

That helps counter justifications for allowing teens to drink, like “everyone is doing it” and drinking is OK if it’s done at home. Those are not true and dangerous, Swonger wrote.

Tactics

To promote the message, the organization created a website, WeDontServeTeens.org, which contains digital downloads of logos and badges; posters; and social media assets. Each poster features a photo of a teen and the message, “Don’t give underage drinking an excuse.” The background is filled with text of various rationales parents might use for allowing their kids to drink underage.

For example, “It’s just what teens do,” and, “I’m scared she won’t like me anymore.”

The posters feature teens of various ethnicities.

“The new imagery reflects the diversity of the teens and young adults in all communities across the country,” Swonger stated.

And the organization drafted language for companies to use in their own social media posts using the hashtag #WDST, as in, “We don’t serve teens.”

One read, “We all play a role in keeping alcohol out of the hands of teens. [Insert company name] is proud to support the #WDST campaign by never serving, supplying or selling alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age. www.wedontserveteens.org #WDST.”

Responsibility.org launched the campaign on social media on November 15. 

The campaign also worked with BrandMuscle to allow people to make custom prints with the campaign message.

“It was important for us to create a place where they could take the existing assets and make them their own,” Swonger wrote.

The campaign also mailed physical and digital asset toolkits to partners throughout the alcohol industry and conducted a webinar about the campaign.

Results

The campaign website received more than 13,000 views from more than 11,000 users in November, according to the organization. It generated earned media from The GuardianFox 5 Atlanta; and Newsy.

Distilleries such as Two Trees Distilling and Ole Smoky also displayed images of We Don’t Serve Teens assets at their locations.


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