Anti-drinking ads aimed at college students often backfire, reveals a recent Northwestern Kellogg School of Management study. Ads that link drinking to "shame and guilt" may actually provoke viewers to imbibe more, say the researchers, who suggest that "positioning PSAs in less heavy-handed environments, such as a sitcom, could reduce resistance." Good thing Americans are not seeing these PSAs from overseas, where anti-drinking ads are routinely much harsher . Here, five of the most shocking:
1. "Tequila Slammer"
With its shaky, Blair Witch Project-like camerawork, this 2010 ad — part of the £25,000 Cocktales government program aimed at youth in Derbyshire, UK — is a clear attempt to make the PSA "go viral." As so often in this genre, a fun night turns tragic. But this time, it's shot from the POV of a camera-wielding observer who himself seems far from sober:
2. The "anti-baby-swinging" ad
The producers of this controversial 2008 PSA from New Zealand "evilly sensationalized" it, alleges one blogger, by coopting its child-abuse theme from a viral video. A spokesperson for the New Zealand Alcohol Advocacy Council said it asked focus groups of parents whether the ad should be screened in prime time: "The uniform response was yes."
3. The key-wielding Canadian killer
This PSA, produced by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) takes a more metaphorical approach to highlighting the dangers of drink driving, and shows it's not just binge-drinking kids who get DUIs:
The fact that this classic spot — produced by the Irish government in 2000 and originally shown in cinemas — begins with the soothing sounds of Fleetwood Mac and dreamlike slow-motion shots arguably makes its "hard-hitting and uncompromising" conclusion even more shame-inducing:
The inevitable crash comes early in this 2007 PSA, produced by Australia's Transport Accident Commission, but the ad depends less on shock tactics and more on skillful emotional manipulation. It's the fall-out that stays with you, a cross-cut look at the impact a deadly crash can have on survivors — concluding with typically Australian bluntness:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 10 things you need to know today: September 21, 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- The week's best editorial cartoons
- California's epic drought
Subscribe to the Week