A Swing and a Miss for Tennessee’s Sexist Anti-DUI Campaign

Tennessee sexist anti-dui campaign strikes outIt seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • What demographic group do the largest number of drunk drivers fall into? Young males.
  • What appeals to young males? Dumb, sexist humor.
  • So how do you get through to young males? Use dumb, sexist humor in your anti-drunk-driving PSAs.

Tennessee's sexist anti-dui campaign.The Governor’s Highway Safety Office thought they had it down. They devised a clever campaign that was intended to appeal to young men who would read the snarky comments on beer coasters and realize they’d better sober up.

  • The implied message, in broad terms: alcohol causes you to make bad decisions.
  • The actual message: alcohol causes you to end up with a dreadful woman – you know the type.

One of the gems to be found on the coasters was: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember if your judgment is impaired so is your driving.”

There have been plenty of efforts to target young men and their propensity to drink and drive. Often, the financial aspect is stressed. Other times, it’s the social liability of a DUI conviction.

But it’s one thing to target a demographic, and another to insult a good portion of those who don’t fit into it. Especially if those people are in the same bar with the first group, and using the same beer coasters.

The Highway Safety Office has apologized for the campaign.

Tennessee gets an A for effort, and an F for execution. It’s good that state officials are thinking about the problem of drunk driving, and trying to attract attention to the cause. For their next campaign, Tennessee might consider the advice they’ve been giving those drinkers: think about the consequences, and make the sensible decision. And if you know someone at the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, remember: friends don’t let friends launch a sexist anti-dui campaign.