Creative director Gavin McGrath speaks to Addison Capper about a fun campaign with an important message for THINK!
UK government research has revealed that a third of people don’t think it’s important to intervene if someone they know is planning to drink and drive. While the majority agreed that drink driving is unacceptable, only 64% said it was important to step in to stop a friend from drink driving. That number drops to 45% for young males.
To address the problem, VMLY&R London and road safety campaign organisation THINK! are calling on young men to 'Pint Block' their mates. A central point of the campaign is, somewhat ironically, a pub. But it's not just any old regular British boozer. Launched in Birmingham this past weekend, it involved actors who brought to life the concept of Pint Blocking, as well as a whole host of other fun activities with an important message at their core. The pub was also decked out with unique illustrations by 60 young artists across the UK - one for each of the 60 young drivers killed or seriously injured when found to be driving over the limit every month in the UK.
Addison Capper chatted with Gavin McGrath, creative director at VMLY&R London, to find out more.
LBB> What kind of research and insight led the development of this campaign? And what were the most shocking findings that you made during the research process, especially around young men?
Gavin> Drink driving is still a major problem. On average 60 people aged 17-24 are involved in accidents each and every month of the year, where the driver was caught over the limit. While the majority of people agree that drink driving is unacceptable, our research found that only 64% said it was important to step in to stop a friend drink driving. That number drops to 45% for young males. In speaking to groups of young guys we found that they don’t set out to drink drive, but just drift into it after having a couple of pints. And, despite all having a strong sense of mutual protection and ‘bro code’, they find it awkward taking that step to stopping a friend from doing it. They simply don’t feel like they have permission and find it awkward.
LBB> What was the inspiration behind the 'Pint Block' tagline for the campaign?
Gavin> We wanted a phrase or words that could quickly become part of their vernacular. Pint Block just worked. It’s short. Punchy. Memorable.
LBB> As you’ve said, drink driving is a consistent issue. How do you go about coming up with original ideas to keep the target audience engaged? How tricky is that?
Gavin> To try to make the key numbers memorable, we commissioned 60 unique Pint Block illustrations by young artists from across the country – one for each of the 60 young people killed or seriously injured each month – and launched them during our pub takeover. Engaging them is the biggest hurdle. Young men are a difficult audience to get through to. Especially when you’re delivering a serious message. They don’t like being advertised to. So we try not to make anything we do look like advertising or like it’s a direct message from the government. When you’re talking about drink driving, bloodstains and mangled wreckages won’t get them to change their behaviour. Using humour, irreverence, and surprise, are much more powerful tools. If you can do something daft; if you can make your audience smile, you’re far more likely to get them to listen in the first place. Then, we hope, remember what you’ve said.
LBB> Tell me about the pub - why did you decide on that approach and what did it involve?
Gavin> We wanted to deliver this message right at the point when drivers are thinking of having a pint. So, we took over a pub. Actors brought to life Pint Blocks right there, on the night. We had a guy pretending to be from the brewery, confiscating pints that felt weird. A landlady who got the whole pub to clap for a minute in memory of a regular. We even had everyone form Birmingham’s longest conga that night. It was all a bit of fun. And at its heart, a serious message.
LBB> How will people that can't get to the experience be targeted with the campaign messaging?
Gavin> There’s a paid media campaign to complement the activation; from content delivered on big drinking weekends, to illustrations on beer mats in pubs, we’re getting our message under the noses of drinkers at just the right times. It targets our 18-24 year old audience, ensuring they see the content and get the important takeout. We've also made sure anyone can access the Pint Blocks and tag their mates wherever they are, through a simple site which sets out what we're doing and why.
LBB> The prints are really creative and generally nice pieces of art - a rarity for print campaigns, especially of this nature. What was the thinking behind this approach?
Gavin> Illustration felt like the right way to execute the idea. It gave us the freedom to generate Pint Blocks from the realistic to the downright ridiculous. Then it was just a matter of selecting the right artists to give us a good stylistic spread across 60 executions. We wanted to create prints that people would want to take home with them.
LBB> How did you enlist the illustrators? And what kind of brief did you give each of them?
Gavin> We selected illustrators through YCN, specifically looking for a diverse range of artists and styles. Each artist brought to life six Pint Blocks. We described each intervention to the artists and left them to interpret the Pint Blocks however they liked. This gave us some really surprising, and beautiful work.
LBB> What other elements to the campaign are there?
Gavin> This is a digital first campaign deployment including short films, GIFs and carousels. 1,500 bespoke beer mats and bar runners in pubs and football clubs around the country. PR earned media (e.g. Evening Standard). And a LadBible partnership featuring the Ultimate Pint Block: a pint being sent into space. Storm Dennis permitting.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
Gavin> The huge volume of work, from concepting to final sign-off was an exciting challenge. We also needed some incredibly tight and collaborative partnerships with the client team to get it all away.