Speak up, or forever hold your ghost chips: new NZTA campaign changes tack on drink-driving message—UPDATED

Youtube VideoDespite a concerted effort from the powers that be to change people’s drink-driving behaviour, New Zealand’s stats are still pretty bad—and particularly so for young and Maori drivers. In the past, the favoured option seems to have been shock, awe and guilt. But the NZTA, Clemenger BBDO and The Sweet Shop have gone down a slightly more positive, colloquial and very humorous road with the ‘Legend’ campaign.

Over 40 percent of all drink-driving crashes involve drunk drivers under the age of 24 years; 82 percent of drinking drivers in all fatal or serious injury-related crashes in 2008-2010 were male, and 34 percent of those were Maori. But, as the release says, these boys are not bad people, they’re good people who make bad choices. So rather than vilifying the bad behaviour, the campaign aims to encourage those who drink with drink-drivers to take some responsibility and speak up, much like the successful Effie-winning ALAC ‘Influencers’ campaign by DraftFCB.

Andrew Holt, Clemenger BBDO’s managing director, says the biggest challenge was getting the tone right and, judging by the feedback so far, he thinks they’ve nailed it.

He believes there’s still a role for ads that shock, but this ad is aimed at a particular niche where that message might not be getting through. And while most people know rationally what they should do, it’s more difficult to do it because of social pressure, so by focusing on positive behaviour and using humour, they’ve tried to lighten the peer pressure many in the target audience face.

Of course, no-one wants to be a killjoy and thinking they’ll look bad is often what gets in the way. So ‘The Inner Battle’, which was directed by Steve Ayson and first played before the RWC final on Sunday, shows what life could be like if friends and bystanders don’t externalise “the complicated situations in their heads” and gives viewers the tools to intervene. The grim reality of being offered ghost chips for all eternity is a torment no-one wants to suffer through.

They don’t set out to drive drunk, they just don’t plan ahead. A few beers with the lads can easily morph into a bigger night, poor judgement and fewer options to get home. But while the consequences of driving drunk are well-known, it’s also widely believed that if you drive drunk, it’s likely you’ll get away with it. This belief is reinforced by the times they did ‘slip up’ and got away with it. They lived to tell the tale, which has since become a ‘success’ story they share with their mates. Coupled with this belief is that no one stops them or makes them feel uneasy about their choice to drive. It’s too awkward so why would they? It’s hard to tell a mate not to drive; no one wants to lose face, to be seen as the ‘downer’ of the party or to be accused of being ‘soft’.

Judging by the response on Twitter, this take on the modern Kiwi condition, which is much more reminiscent of Boy than the Southern Man, has been very well-received. And, as this blog post says, it’s another example of how Kiwis love to see themselves on screen—and how that’s changed over the years as we’ve become a more independent nation.


Client: NZTA

Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Wellington

Executive Creative Director: Phillip Andrew

Senior Writer: Bridgid Alkema , Mitch Alison

Senior Art Director: Bridgid Alkema

Agency Producer: Martin Gray

Assistant Producer: Georgina Otto

Production Company: The Sweet Shop

Director: Steve Ayson

Chief Executive Officer: Paul Prince

Managing Director: George Mackenzie

Global Executive Producer: Sharlene George

Executive Producer: Fiona King

Producer: Larisa Tiffin

Director of Photography: Crighton Bone

Directors Assistant: Damien Shatford

Production Designer: Guy Treadgold

Editor: Peter Scribberas @ The Butchery, Melbourne

Post Production: Toybox, Auckland

On-Air: Sunday, October 23rd 2011

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