Your Hump-Day Recess: Drunk Driving 80s Style – Same Problem, Different Hair.

Many things have changed since 1983, and this PSA is proof of that. Michael Jackson’s Beat It is no longer on the charts. Women’s hair isn’t quite so big. Nothing is pierced, there are no tattoos, and the cars are bigger and boxier than those of today. And even at 30 seconds, this ad has a leisurely pace.

Nevertheless, the PSA has historic importance. With it the Ad Council, a New York-based  non-profit, began a campaign which eventually worked its way into public consciousness. Fear and shock had been used for generations, to little effect on the nation’s roads. As it turned out, creative thinking and a bit of irony was a much better prescription.

Classic Drunk Driving PSAs

Eventually the slogan “Drinking & Driving Can Kill a Friendship” would be overshadowed by “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.” But the ads would keep coming because there was a need for them. In the 1980s drunk driving was a killer of young people. It still is – young men are still seven times more likely to be in a drunk driving crash – but there is good news: all alcohol-related road deaths are down, including those of teens.

Today’s ads focus more on buzzed driving, as we saw last week – raising awareness that a slight buzz from alcohol is still too much impairment for safe driving. But much of the every effective work that has been done in the US to prevent drunk driving goes back to the Ad Council’s early campaigns. Well done.