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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 29, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

    Can the Dracula approach stop drink-driving?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Am I the only one who finds that TV ad on drink-driving both disturbing and possibly counter-productive? Naturally I wholeheartedly applaud anything that reduces the carnage on our roads, but is this the way to go about it?You know the one I mean, I have just seen it twice on RTE. The young fella meets a groovy chick in a bar. He’s obviously going to drive her home but has to decide whether to take a drink or not to give him Dutch courage.

     Then we go into absolutely horrific scenes of mutilated passengers in a car-crash; police knocking on the mother’s door to be greeted with a smile and then shock; then there’s footage of the injured and disfigured survivors trying very painfully to put their lives back together again.

    It’s all very laudable in intent and I repeat, in case anyone out there decides to think otherwise, that I fully and completely support the objective. But does it necessarily follow that pointing up these horrors is really going to stop the Young Covey having another Vodka and Red Bull before he fishes the car-keys out of his pocket.

    I also wonder what people who are disfigured or otherwise severely injured, etc., must feel as they look at this ad. It’s not very positive, not a great incentive to anyone who is in that particular situation. The message is that, to be like this is a horrible thing when maybe the proper message should be, You’re severely injured but there is hope.

    As soon as this ad comes up, I hit the Remote Control button. I don’t want my evening’s viewing turned into an Over-18′s horror show (if an over-18′s horror movie is on, I hide behind the sofa.)

    The ads featuring relatives of deceased victims is much more effective in my view. I admire their courage and spirit of public service enormously. These people are, in their own quiet way, heroes of our time.

    I would also like to see ads from, say, Tommy Tiernan or some other comedian regarded as “cool” which just made a skit of drink-drivers and portrayed them as a laughing-stock and total idiots: pariahs who are not just irresponsible but total gobdaws into the bargain.

     It would be good to get someone like Bono involved, when he’s not doing his very admirable Third World work. I recall that when my kids were at Secondary School it was considered a profoundly uncool thing to wear a helmet when you rode your bicycle. I wonder how many cyclists suffered major head injuries because they were ashamed to wear protective headgear. Let’s make helmets a fashion item.

    I sincerely regret if this offends anyone connected with the anti-Drink Driving campaign. I am a teetotaller myself and very much in favour of restrictions on alcohol sales (and advertising too, by jiminy). But while I share the objective, I don’t think this is the best way to go about it. I also don’t like being subjected to these upsetting scenes in the privacy of my own living-room but if I felt it was achieving the desired objective, I would put up with it.

    What do you think?

    • John says:

      Agree with what you say. However it is not the anti-drink driving ads that are the problem. In my opinion it’s the sponsorship of sports that gives the “cool” veneer to drinking. Heineken Cup, Magners League, Guinness Hurling,Budweiser Derby,Carling Cup etc. Every child has a hero who is sponsored by the drinks industry.

    • Deaglán says:

      Now you’re talking.

    • Barra says:

      On an aside, the case for helmet laws and/or wearing isn’t clear. Check the wikipedia page for an overview – supported by a scary 114 references. Obviously cyclists have far too much time on their hands as a result of being faster getting around.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      My eldest child is so disturbed each time this ad appears on the TV that we, like you, have adopted the policy of editing it out of our viewing entirely. We also have to edit out the smoke detector ad showing the last moments of a child dying in a fire, for similar reasons.

      But both government agencies responsible may find themselves being sued for the cost of therapy in future by a generation of traumatised children.

      Meanwhile, the target audience is sculling cans in a car listening to rap music on a radio station that Gay Byrne has never heard of, let alone placed an ad on.


    • Miriam says:

      I agree these ads are very upsetting and I would put up with them if I thought they were effective but I fear that the young people they are aimed at do not watch RTE television

    • Alex Thompson says:

      And the harsh reality is that the hot girly in the ad might well, in actuality, be more inclined to engage said Young Covey in off-screen coitus if he did in fact take to driving recklessly (if not necessarily drunkenly).

      Nous sommes des animaux.

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