You can’t help but have noticed the successful newspaper campaign.
That’s mine. Sure they’ve finessed the words a little. I’m still not sure what was wrong with ‘Scamper or you’re Screwed?’
But I shouldn’t get all precious and proprietorial.
The success of the campaign is more important than who came up with the idea. It was me, but again, that’s beside the point.
What’s important is the campaign, and the campaign is a thing of beauty.
When everyone was banging on about the supposed dangers of alcohol, and trying their best to demonise our favourite drop, we launch our campaign and bang, ‘problem solved’. Not the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence, but certainly the problem that mattered most to us.
Its genius is its simplicity. Turns out they didn’t call me Simple St Peters in my youth without good cause.
Step one. My organisation, the Alcohol Industry Lobby (AIL) aligns itself with the strongest traditional media company we can find. We needed to be a bit selective here. We’re on a good footing with all of them. ‘In bed’s’ a bit strong, but it’s fair to say they all have the key to honeymoon suite.
We ruled out one media organisation. I’m not saying they can’t run a campaign, but let’s be honest. We needed something a little more sophisticated than a community meeting in the local Scout Hall. If that’s all they’ve got we’d be better off backing the money truck up to the local Scout troop. Not that I’m saying there’s a money truck. These days it’s all electronic transfer.
Worse than thinking too small they were guilty of a rookie campaigning mistake. Sure you want the public engaged, but not to the point where you’re rubbing shoulders with them. Before you know it, you’ll have supposed experts and concerned citizens telling you what they think, and that’s minutes of your life you’re never getting back.
Step two is about finding common ground. Our media partner (we’ll call him Bill because that’s his name) wants to put his newspapers front and centre of story of the moment and cover the ever increasing alcohol-fuelled violence in our cities. Truth be known, he would far prefer to run another story about helper-monkeys and smart phones, but he desperately needs to beat his rival to the punch (unfortunate) and he’s still smarting that the other paper got in first with the Scout Hall booking. Problem is Bill quite literally can’t afford to get any more advertisers (my members) offside. They’re haemorrhaging readers and advertisers faster than a haemophiliac in a blender.
To that end, we need to finesse the message. Let’s not beat (apologies again) around the bush. We need a little less alcohol in our alcohol-fuelled violence, and when I say less, I mean we need to remove it from the campaign altogether. We all enjoy a beer, but a smack in the face? Not so much. Let’s simply campaign against the violence? No one can argue against the merits of that campaign, and Bill says the boxing promoters aren’t big advertisers and he’s prepared to wear the loss.
Step Three: We also need a campaign that can connect with the readers. It’s got to engage them without actually asking too much of them. Again, let’s be clear, we don’t actually want the larger community to do anything here beyond clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook, and continuing to drink as much as they were drinking before.
Step Four, and herein lies the magic, is to place the responsibility for this problem onto the shoulders of the individual involved.
No, not the thugs throwing the punches! Don’t be absurd. I’m pretty confident they don’t read newspapers; actually I’d put money down that they are not big on the whole ‘reading’ thing at all.
I’m talking about the mug punter in the firing line.
Haven’t you been paying attention to the campaign?
Run like the wind?, Duck like you mean it?, Brace for impact?…
Seriously! Where have you been?
Get down to your local liquor outlet. With every case of Cross-eyed Mountain Lion Pale Ale Special Edition you can grab yourself a bonus pair of Cross-eyed Cross Trainers.
You’ll never be quicker legging it out of the pub on a Friday night, but hurry. If you miss out on the promotion, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
Illustration by Andrew Henderson