I've been watching my tiny corner of the Twitterverse explode with outrage a series of billboards spotted in Melbourne by Jen Hansen. Jen tweeted the ad, for a product called Big Night Recovery. There was (almost) universal disgust at the ad within my twitter circle.
It's important to know that I don't have any objection to the product, which seems to be an electrolyte stabiliser of some kind. My objection is to with the marketing campaign.
The billboard advertisements are prominently displayed in bus stops around the Melbourne CBD. They show images of blokes who are drunk, with a caption indicating that within a few hours, these same pissed idiots will be capable of performing their high-risk jobs. All of this will be possible with the aid of Big Night Recovery. The campaign is backed with a FaceBook and Online competition encouraging drinkers to share stories and pics of their worst hangovers. Responsible marketing, anyone?
They campaign Facebook page can be found here.
Any biochemist will tell you that an electrolyte solution will help to rehydrate you after alcohol has dehydrated you...and then they'll tell you that it will not assist you to sober up, or make up for the lack of sleep that you've had. You'll feel better, but you won't work safer.
Now I've been challenged on Twitter about this. Apparently the billboards are tongue in cheek, and by assuming that page target audience for the campaign won't see the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the ads, I'm being an intellectual snob.
The problem there is that people do go out and get hammered the night before fronting up to work in their high risk jobs, and those people - the ones who don't understand or respect the effect of alcohol on their bodies - are the ones this campaign targets. They'll feel better after their electrolyte solution and a couple of nurofen and they'll go to work, thinking they're okay to drive heavy machinery, run hazard materials sites, land planes...even just drive to their office to sit in front of a computer all day.
They're not okay, Dan, and neither are these ads.
We live in a country where alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, is at dangerous levels. We also live in a country where on average, one person loses his life each week while on the job. I'm looking forward to the response from Worksafe Victoria.
Thanks to Jen Hansen, Mel Kettle, Karis Bouher, Derryn Hinch and so many others on Twitter tonight for your perspective.