Shame on your name: NZTA shows the perils of old drinking habits, looks to change engrained middle-age behaviour

Back in December, the blood alcohol limit was lowered from 80 milligrams to 50 milligrams per millilitre, and while every human is different, that equates to about two standard drinks over two hours before drivers blow the bag. NZTA and Clemenger BBDO announced that change with a simple informational campaign. But, as they have been doing for years, they’re now playing the emotional card.

NZTA says the law change affects 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 are those who have driven for years after a few drinks and believe they’re safe.

“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 mid-ale, which launched on premise before Christmas but is now available 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’s been in double digit growth, even though they haven’t done much with it.

Who’s tried our new Summit Citrus? It’s got a bit of lemon in it.. Check out our ad that will be launching on TV soon.

Posted by Speight’s on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Speight’s also added another variety to its range, Speight’s Summit Citrus, although it’s a four percent ABV. 

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”. 

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