Friends Are Waiting…For You To Drink Responsibly

Do you drink responsibly?

This is one of those questions that can catch you off guard. Think about the last time you had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, or maybe a few beers while watching a sporting event on television…or there is the neighborhood barbecue, the family reunion, the wedding, or even getting together with a few friends for “happy hour” after work. If you did drink on these occasions, did you drink responsibly?

Can you define how to drink responsibly? We’ll come back to that question in a minute. First, we want to share with you Budweiser’s most recent television ad promoted responsible drinking.

Budweiser’s #FriendsAreWaiting

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

This is a video that will just grab your heart. It makes you long for the day(s) when you brought a puppy home for the first time. You recall growing up or growing old with your favorite dog. The message is powerful and the young man made a good decision not to drive home under the influence.

But a couple of messages in this film stood out to us:

  • Instead of drink responsibly Budweiser uses the phrase enjoy responsibly.
  • Mid-film the screen goes to black and white with the message: “For some, the waiting never ended.” 

The use of the phrase enjoy responsibly is very subtle, but the message “For some, the waiting never ended” will hit home with anyone who lost a loved one as a result of someone’s irresponsible drinking.  This message will stop you in your tracks.

Do you think “drink responsibly” advertisements are effective?

Researchers study the efficacy of “drink responsibly” messages

In the September 2014 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence a study by Katherine Clegg Smith, Ph.D.,  Samantha Cukier, MA, MBA, and David H. Jernigan, Ph.D. all of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published the results of their research: Defining strategies for promoting product through ‘drink responsibly’ messages in magazine ads for beer, spirits and alcopops.

In their study they analyzed the text content of ‘drink responsibly’ messages found in U.S. newsstands reviewing advertisements for beer, spirits and alcopops from 2008 to 2010. The total number of ads was 1795. They carefully reviewed the content, the prominence of the ad and the presence of the responsibility message.

The study’s findings…

  • 87% of the advertisements included a responsibility message
  • The responsibility messages were not prominent 
  • Responsibly drinking was never defined
  • The message never promoted abstinence
  • There were 197 unique responsibility messages and 88% of these promoted the advertised product

According to the press release issued by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Smith observed:

“While responsibility messages were present in almost nine out of ten ads, none of them provided any information about what it means to drink responsibly. Instead, we found that the vast majority of responsibility messages were used to convey promotional information, such as appealing product qualities or how the product should be consumed.”

So…can you define what it means to “drink responsibly?”

If you asked 12 adults to define the term “drink responsibly,” chances are you will have 12 definitions.  A lot of responsible drinking has to do with common sense; however, what sounds reasonable before your start drinking may sound ridiculous after a few drinks.

There is a website called WikiHow ~ To Do Anything. They have a whole section dedicated to How to drink responsibly. They offer three parts to the equation:

  • Make a plan
  • Manage your drinking
  • Avoid dangerous situations 

As we mentioned in an earlier post, many colleges and universities are working to educate the students about drinking responsibly. Today we learned about Boston University’s program to keep their students informed and to enforce the drinking laws. The students take an on-line course, even before arriving at the campus as incoming freshman. And each year BU’s President Robert A. Brown speaks to the students and their parents.

The school’s newspaper BU Today reported:

Brown cautioned the students against underage and binge drinking, warning that in addition to lowering academic performance, excessive alcohol consumption could land students in the emergency room, compromise their safety, or result in their removal from student housing. “For some,” he said, “the consequences can be much, much worse.”

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