Help Celebrate Social Marketing’s Anniversary – What Are Your Favorite Social Marketing Campaigns?

Jan 25

Yesterday I shared my excitement for celebrating social marketing’s upcoming anniversary by presenting #3 on my personal list of top three favorite social marketing campaigns. Today, I want to share with you my top two. Do these campaigns hold a spot in your top three?

#2.  Don’t Drink Yourself Fat, 2009-Present, New York Department of Health

Background: The New York Health Department encourages consumers to choose beverages with less sugar, and to aims to fight obesity caused by sugary drinks.

Objective: The campaign’s signature image – in which a bottle of soda, “sports” drink or sweetened iced tea turns to a blob of fat as it reaches the glass – is a reminder of how these products can lead to obesity and related health problems. The ads urge New Yorkers to cut back on sugary beverages and quench their thirst with water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead.

Insight: The NY Health Department aired a controversial video PSA that garnered a lot of attention. The video is based on the advertising campaign the department started on the subway in the summer of 2009 that pictured gobs of fat pouring from a bottle of soda into a glass beneath the words “Are you pouring on the pounds?” The video cost about $50,000 to produce, and was paid for by a private donor.

Results: New research indicates that New Yorkers are already curbing their liquid sugar cravings.

•        According to the city’s Health Department, the number of people drinking one or more sugar-rich beverages decreased by 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, but three out of every five New Yorkers are still overweight or obese.

•       The department also claims that sugar in sweetened beverages is the leading source of calorie intake amongst Americans.


The New York Times Online,

The American Council on Science and Health,

And a drum roll please……..

#1.  Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk (1983-Present), U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Background: In 1983 the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (under the U.S. Department of Transportation – U.S. DOT) partnered to launch the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign.

Objective: The campaign, with its tagline, “Drinking & Driving Can Kill A Friendship,” was originally designed to reach 16-24 year-olds, who accounted for 42% of all fatal alcohol-related car crashes, and inspire personal responsibility to prevent drinking and driving. As the years passed, statistics showed that the issue of drunk driving was approaching the forefront of American consciousness.

According to an April 1986 Roper poll, 62% of young Americans reported that they were now more conscious of the dangers of drunk driving than they had been previously and 34% refused to drink at all when they were planning to drive.

Strategy: In 1990, new PSAs encouraging friends to intervene in order to prevent a drunk person from getting behind the wheel introduced the tagline, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.” The hard-hitting campaign was instrumental in achieving a 10% decrease in alcohol-related fatalities between 1990 and 1991 – the single largest one-year drop in alcohol-related fatalities ever recorded.

Results: Since its launch, the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign has received more than $1.3 billion in donated media support. Also:

•       Eighty-four percent of Americans recall having seen or heard a Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk public service announcement. Nearly 80 percent report they took action to prevent a friend or loved one from driving drunk, and 25 percent report they stopped drinking and driving as a result of the campaign.

•       In 2009 the campaign evolved to a new series of television PSAs designed to remind viewers that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” The campaign is designed to correct that misperception by communicating that you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be too impaired to drive and that even a few drinks can impair driving. The campaign tagline instills the notion that if you are “buzzed,” you’re too impaired to drive safely by asserting that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”

•       Since the 1983 inception of the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign, alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped significantly and the term “designated driver” has become a part of American culture.

So there you have it, my personal list of top two social marketing campaigns. What is your #1 favorite social marketing campaign?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Public Health, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Help Celebrate Social Marketing’s Anniversary – What Are Your Favorite Social Marketing Campaigns?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sean&Vaun Coleman, Richard Arcand. Richard Arcand said: Help Celebrate Social Marketing's Anniversary – What Are Your …: Yesterday I shared my excitement for celebrat… […]

  2. Jennifer Wayman says:

    I like your top three but, for me, there are two others that belong on your list:

    1. The Heart Truth, a national women’s heart health campaign here in the U.S. that has been adopted in several countries around the world–largely due to the power of it’s strong creative platform (The Red Dress) (Ok, I admit I’m biased on that one).


    2. truth, the innovative teen-targeted anti-smoking campaign that continues to blow me away with its on-target, edgy, and provocative messages and creative executions.

  3. Lauren Belisle says:

    Cara– looks like Obama is reading the SM Exchange, here’s a quote from the Reuters article linked below:

    “Citing the success of U.S. public health campaigns against cigarette smoking, drunk driving and to promote the use of car seat belts, Obama said the country had made “huge strides” over the last 30 years by targeting popular attitudes.”

    Between my most recent post, and your top 3 list, we covered them all!