A horse walks into a bar … and aims to limit drink driving

Back in December, NZTA and Clemenger BBDO launched the Limits campaign, which aimed to point out to moderate middle-age boozers that changes to the drink-driving rules meant they needed to change their habits or face the consequences. That was fairly serious. But now, in an extension of that campaign, it’s taking a leaf out of the BoJack Horseman book (and possibly riffing on the horse walks into a bar joke) with a humorous animated horse and a bunch of alcohol puns. 

This knock knock campaign, which follows on from the animated approach used in its drive social campaign, may be the polar opposite to the launch ad, but it is also aimed at those in their thirties and forties and continues a recent trend in social advertising of trying to change behaviour through entertainment rather than fear. It will run in cinemas, on Facebook and in poster form in bars and, according to the NBR, it cost $108,000 for media and production. And while the YouTube comments suggest the humour may not have hit the mark and the quips are unlikely to become part of the Kiwi vernacular like some parts of Ghost Chips did, it seems as though this is intended to be placed in the so-bad-it’s-good genre (something Jono and Ben are also tapping into with their efforts to find New Zealand’s funniest dad). 

NZTA said the law change, which lowered the blood alcohol limit from 80 milligrams to 50 milligrams per millilitre, affected all drivers aged 20 years and over (the zero tolerance alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 remained in place), but the people most affected were those who have driven for years after a few drinks and believe they’re safe (while every human is different, that equates to about two standard drinks over two hours before drivers blow the bag). 

“Years of successfully getting from A to B after drinking at these levels and driving has reinforced their behaviour. But ‘just a few drinks’ is now enough to get caught. Our new campaign targets people who are normally good, law abiding citizens of both genders aged in their 30s and 40s. They’re the same people that consider drink-driving above the legal limit is unacceptable. They’ve always agreed with our drink-driving messages, but they’ve been well aware we have not been talking specifically to them: ‘Great message, but I’m not your target audience.'” 

NZTA says this target group have set their own personal alcohol limits over time and have established a habitual approach to their own driving behaviour. But those limits now need to be adjusted and if they’re not, it could lead to “unintended and shameful consequences”, as shown in the ad featuring a wife getting done after a few drinks with friends. 

NZTA took a similar approach with the much-lauded Mistakes, which targeted drivers who thought they were good enough to exceed the speed limit by only a few kilometres per hour. Rather than simply chastising speedsters with a series of facts on the dangers of driving fast, the ad changed the conversation about safe driving—and the space time continuum—by pointing out that anyone on the road can make a mistake and that a seemingly insignificant contravention of the speed limit can remove valuable moments from your reaction time.

As with any law change, not everyone’s happy about it. And the lower limits are having an impact in the real world. 

DB’s low-alcohol Export Citrus range has been very successful. And Ben Wheeler, Lion’s category marketing manager for beer, says its Speight’s mid-ale, which launched on premise before Christmas and then in pack, has also done well. He says a lot of people asked if this product was launched in response to the changes to drink driving rules, but that was coincidental as it had been working on development for a long time. It also offers Steinlager premium light and since the driving rules changed, he said it was in double digit growth, even though they haven’t done much with it.

RNZ quoted Glengarry bottle store retail assistant Edward Freeman saying there’s been a number of low alcohol beer options launched, and many of them were now being advertised as ‘session’ beers, such as Tuatara’s Iti. 

“Iti went from a standing start for us when we released it in May last year, to being about nine percent of our sales by December, so phenomenal growth,” said Richard Shirtcliffe, Tuatara’s ‘head boy’. “That’s entirely, we think, to do with the fact that we got out of the blocks early enough to build a bit of momentum behind the product, and had it in time for the change in the laws in December.”

Low alcohol wine is also a big growth area. Demand was already rising due to more interest in healthy lifestyles. And this law change has given it another boost. 

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson told RNZ he was not expecting the changes to affect trade at most bars and pubs. But there was some concern at country pubs, “where alternative transport is problematic”. Bring on the driverless cars. 

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