Communicating the message to young people–especially young men, who commit four times as many DWI offenses as women–that drinking and driving is a dangerous activity, and not a way to show off how good they are at holding their liquor, is important. But there are powerful, clever ways to send that message, and then there’s–well, there’s the campaign that the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office recently launched (and promptly recalled), which compares drunk driving with hooking up with a “marginally good-looking girl.”
The campaign included the distribution of coasters and fliers at bars with messages like “Buy a drink for a marginally good-looking girl, only to find out she’s chatty, clingy, and your boss’s daughter” and “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember: If your judgment is impaired, so is your driving.” Because, you know, having to talk with a girl who’s “chatty” and “clingy” at a bar–especially when she’s only “marginally good-looking”!–is a consequence on par with a collision that could kill you or someone else. And that’s if you even connect the words on the coaster with the message that drinking and driving is a bad idea, and don’t just take away from it that, ugh, women are so annoying.
Bro outreach on drunk driving is crucial, but the campaign was recalled this week, basically as soon as anyone outside the office who commissioned the materials saw them. The Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office’s director, Kendell Poole, promptly apologized for the campaign, explaining, “Because one of the goals of many Booze It and Lose It campaigns is to reach our high risk driving population, the marketing is often edgy and designed to grab the attention of the young male demographic. It was never the intent of the GHSO to be insensitive or insulting to women.”