ABC Talk It Out
North Carolina has an underage drinking problem. Working in concert with our friends at Eckel & Vaughan, we developed a multi-year campaign aimed at reversing this serious issue—a public health crisis that can lead to crime, early pregnancy, brain injury and even death. It’s a heavy subject, and research showed parents were in denial about how early their children were being exposed to alcohol. Our response? A two-phase approach: First, go bold to wake parents up. Then, once we had their attention, guide them to the all-important action of starting ongoing and possibly life-changing conversations with their kids.
We went in with a gut punch, getting parents to face the fact that—as much as they might not want to hear it—they need talk about underage drinking with their children, and at a much earlier age than they may think. Uncomfortable? Yes. Effective? Very.
Parents were beginning to wake up and pay attention; the job was to keep the momentum going. That called for another set of hard-hitting concepts that showed parents the potential consequences of inaction, in an engaging and powerful way.
It was time to back up our message with some science. Specifically, the fact that areas of the brain responsible for judgement, consciousness, even breathing, aren’t fully developed until age 25. So we showed what can happen when teens literally act without thinking.
After three years of building awareness, we turned the dial turned to action: actually sitting down and talking. We know parents find it awkward, and even when they get over their fears they tend to overthink things. The insight? Perfect is the enemy of good.
The results? People are still taking about them. Surveys showed unaided recall of the ads by almost half the parents. Even better, those who recalled an ad were likely to talk with their child about underage drinking one year earlier than those who did not.