The nuts and bolts of creating a culture change campaign

When we set out to produce Name that Point as part of the bigger two-year alcohol culture change campaign currently being delivered by VicHealth and the State Government, the basic premise was simple.

We want the public, particularly young people aged 16 to 29-years-old to discuss:

·        Are we happy with the way we drink as a community?

·        Why is excessive alcohol use such an expected and accepted part of our lives?

The truth is, 87 per cent of Victorians believe alcohol is a problem, but only 18 per cent of drinkers think their current drinking is harmful.

Which leads us to the classic Australian conundrum: ‘I know drinking is a problem in our community, but it’s everyone else’s drinking that’s the problem, not mine’.

So, with only one in five taking individual responsibility for their drinking, the public just aren’t connecting with confronting images of young people lying broken in gutters, violently lashing out, or stumbling about in traffic.

They just don’t believe it reflects their lives. Binge drinking is typically seen as the scourge of the tragic rough-sleeper or out-of-control teen, but in truth, a lot of us do it even unwittingly. If you consume a bottle of wine, that’s binge drinking. Three pints of beer after work? Also binge drinking.

So one of the problems with alcohol culture is the language we use to define our limits. No-one readily identifies as a binge drinker and in fact, the term is unhelpful because it makes our own drinking behaviour seem tame in comparison.

Whatever we want to call it, drinking to excess is dangerous and it is as much of a social issue as it is a health issue.

Hangovers, loss of productivity, the development of chronic disease over time, breakdown of relationships, difficulty concentrating, the sting in the wallet and in your head, questionable choices while intoxicated, mental health decline – it all adds up.

Many people share these experiences, but don’t often discuss them candidly. We tend to gloss over the murky side of alcohol and celebrate the taste, the camaraderie and the sense of reward it brings to our lives.

Name that Point aims to bring drinking culture out into the open so people have a forum to start developing a shared language around alcohol and examining what it means to us and why. So in essence, answering the question: Why is alcohol such an expected and accepted part of our lives and is that okay?

By asking people to name that point in the evening where clear thinking turns to more drinking, we’re creating language around an individual’s internal limits. By giving this point a name that relates to everyone’s self-assessed limits collectively, we’re able to discuss it in a way that people understand.

We know that standard drink measures aren’t the best indication of intoxication because no-one is going to sit at the pub with a note pad adding it up and every individual responds to alcohol differently. It’s a subjective thing. So instead, it’s really up to the drinker to make a judgement call about when they’ve reached ‘that point’.

That’s the moment this campaign hopes to define.

After focus testing a range of campaign approaches, award-winning advertising agency McCann was commissioned to develop the Name that Point website, videos and marketing collateral.

Their brief was to design a campaign that will involve the community in a discussion to find the point where most of us agree, we’ve had enough to drink.

The resulting creative appeals to young people, is novel and is designed to inspire discussion. It uses humour and interactive content, with a casual tone and regularly updated content, questions, polls and commentary.

So far, the campaign is going well and the discussion is providing interesting and valuable lessons for phase two.

Check out the campaign at www.namethatpoint.com.au

Read more about the Name that Point campaign on Drink Tank.

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Jerril Rechter

Jerril Rechter is the CEO of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. She is a World Health Organisation Advisor and a board member of the International Network of Health Promotion Foundations. Jerril holds a Master of Business Leadership from RMIT University.

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