Feeds

Anti-binge drinking ads add to binge drinking

Yes, I feel guilty, now pour me three large doubles

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A US study has shown that anti-binge drinking ads may actually provoke exactly the kind of liver-bashing behaviour they're trying to prevent.

Saskatchewan Ministry of Health anti-binge drinking posterResearchers at the Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management showed 1,200 undergraduates anti-booze ads based on those used in Canadian campaigns, such as the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health example seen here.

Sadly, it emerged that the ads' reliance on guilt and shame to provoke abstinential remorse backfires because people already feeling these "instinctively resist messages that rely on those emotions, and in some cases are more likely to participate in the behavior they're being warned about", as Advertising Age summarises.

Kellogg marketing professor Nidhi Agrawal explained that this process is known as "defensive processing", in which the ads' targets "tend to disassociate themselves with whatever they are being shown in order to lessen those emotions".

The result? A few quick liveners to numb the pain.

Worse still, the finger-wagging ads will cause the same defensive processing in an individual who's feeling guilty about some other shameful behaviour. Agrawal noted: "If you're talking to a student about cheating on an exam, and one of these ads comes up, you can bet they are headed straight to the bar."

Agrawal insisted: "There's a lot of money spent on these ads that could be put to better use."

The professor had a suggestion for ad makers attempting to warn of the dire consequences of smoking, sexually transmitted diseases or other hazards: spread the word in positive surroundings, "such as in a sitcom or a positive magazine article", because they have "a better chance at resonating than those placed in tense or negative contexts".

Anti-alcohol groups, specifically, would "be better served focusing their messages around how to avoid situations that lead to binge drinking than on the consequences of the behavior, because attempting to shame people out of binge drinking doesn't work".

The findings are published in the Journal of Marketing Research later this year. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.