Anil Thakraney: Needed: Campaign against drunk driving

05 Apr,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Two recent tragedies in Mumbai involving drunk driving have again put the problem in the spotlight. Despite all the policing and the possibility of doing jail time, people continue to hit the wheel inebriated. And this happens in all urban areas. The Mumbai police has once again taken to the roads with a vengeance, but clearly that’s not the solution.


The change, as it’s usually the case, must come from within. And this is where marketers and ad agencies can play an important role. I cannot understand why the industry hasn’t yet thought of a powerful communication plan against drunk driving. In fact, it is a booze company that should take it up, and seize the opportunity to build one of its brands. And in addition, project an image of being a socially aware organization.


Isn’t that far better than indulging in those silly (and unethical) ‘Make it large’ sort of surrogate ads? Where daaru is sold disguised as soda, water and playing cards. So much wiser to do a good deed. And yes, one would like to do business with people who care for humanity, or at least people who are perceived to be good souls. Like the Johnnie Walker guys, who have been running the international ‘Drink Responsibly’ campaign with positive results. Here’s one commercial which features cricket legend Vivian Richards:


But for India, we need much more compelling stuff, as we desis tend to be enormously apathetic people. We seriously lack civic sense. And if the marketers don’t come forward, I would urge the ad agencies to take proactive measures, and create solid campaigns against drunk driving. And if social responsibility doesn’t sound like a hot enough proposition, the chance of winning major ad awards should be music to the ears. Whatever works. Because I do believe here’s one public problem where the industry can play a role. It’s not something policing will be able to tackle.


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So go for it, people. It’s a great opportunity to make a real difference out there. Cheers!




PS: Ms Arundhati Roy is at it again. She’s written yet another looong essay in Outlook mag on how greedy corporates, in connivance with politicians, police and the bureaucrats, are damaging the lives of tribals through illegal and immoral mining operations. Here’s a rejoinder to her diatribe, and it points out glaring factual errors and other blunders in Roy’s scathing arguments. That is why I have always believed this very fine writer must stick to penning fiction.




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