The DrinkWise campaign with the suave, debonair cartoon who told youth to stay classy when drinking, was one of the hardest campaigns created by Clemenger BBDO, according to CEO Peter ‘Biggsy’ Biggs.
“This was the most dangerous and difficult campaign we’ve ever contemplated doing,” he told the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney.
Presenting with DrinkWise CEO John Scott, Biggs remarked how every great campaign has a courageous client behind it.
“Not only was this about reaching the most difficult to reach and cynical audience you could ever imagine, but this topic wasn’t just a topic. It’s a deeply embedded cultural ritual in Australian life, particularly in teens coming of age,” he said.
“It is terrifying whenever you try and change something deeply embedded in a culture.”
Noting the fact many other campaigns targeting the youth drinking culture hadn’t made much of a dent in behaviour, Clemenger BBDO decided to go the other way and show people how not to be a dickhead when they drink.
While Biggs noted the campaign had critics, the audience diffused them rather than the client.
“Those who responded to those critics were the young audience, who basically said ‘pull your head in. This campaign is good, this campaign is working’.”
Scott also talked about the backlash the campaign received from public health lobbies suggesting they were encouraging drinking.
Scott shared responses to the campaign including one comment that said, “Maybe the first campaign of its kind that hasn’t made me want to shoot myself in the face and hasn’t made the organisers look like somebody’s out-of-touch spinster aunt”.
“It was quite gratifying for us to get a core of young people and a community that we’ve built…and really activate this campaign now,” said Scott.
Biggs added: “In any controversial issue, you’re going to get criticism. The worst thing you can do is defend it yourself. Create, as John said, an army of people who support what you’re doing.”
A relationship of trust between the client and the agency was crucial to getting this campaign up, Biggs said. “Nothing happens without holding hands, in a non-sexual way, and jumping the chasm.”
The campaign, aimed at 18-to-24 year olds, launched in February.
The campaign was largely digital, centred around YouTube, however there were other activations such as posters on the backs of bathroom doors and a free concert with Sydney musician Oliver Tank.
“All very carefully crafted to be relevant to that audience but also be there, at the moment, when the drinking experiences happen,” said Biggs.