Pernod Ricard to tackle the whys of irresponsible drinking

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A new integrated public service campaign from spirits and wine company Pernod Ricard USA is approaching the issue of irresponsible drinking from a new direction by identifying common excuses people use to justify their behavior.

"Even though the vast majority of Americans consume alcohol responsibly, we still feel that since responsibility is one of our core values, we have an obligation to address the issue of irresponsible drinking in a meaningful way," said Jack Shea, VP of corporate communications at Pernod Ricard USA.

So, the firm asked Fly Communications, one of its existing agencies, to come up with a campaign that resonates with a target audience that includes parents of underage drinkers and adults who are driving drunk.

"We're not doing the same old ædrunk driving is bad' campaign," said David Warren, co-founder of Fly Communications, New York. "Of course it's bad. The point is to understand the thinking behind it, which is what we're addressing."

The campaign, which is Purchase, NY-based Pernod Ricard USA's most comprehensive public service campaign to date, kicked off right before Labor Day weekend with a full-page ad in USA Today and the launch of a complementary Web site, www.acceptresponsibility.org. The Web site's URL is featured prominently throughout the campaign.

One of the print ads features a martini glass illustrated with the text of typical excuses people make when they drive after drinking too much, such as "I've driven home from here so many times I can do it blindfolded." The headline is "Drunk driving doesn't start with a drink. It starts with an excuse."

In the coming months, additional ads will begin appearing that address binge drinking and underage drinking (pictured). The ads will be showing up in national newspapers, magazines and online banner ads.

The Web site features a variety of content that encourages people to accept responsibility for their drinking. There is a quiz that was developed by one of the leading experts on drinking and driving and which tries to get visitors thinking about self-deception. Visitors can also send e-card versions of the ads to people they know who may be engaging in some of the negative behavior addressed in the campaign. A links section directs visitors to other resources for more information. An animated ad addressing binge drinking is now on YouTube. "We hope to reach college students who are online," said Shea.

"We thought there should be something that works with YouTube that can be passed around because that gets to a lot more people, and once they see it, they start to consider it," Warren added. Additional video ads will be put up on YouTube in the future.

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