Change the conversation about impaired driving

Acart Communications and our longtime clients the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and Brewers Association of Canada (as sponsor) recently partnered with Arrive Alive and The Student Life Education Company to launch a new kind of anti-impaired-driving campaign.

TIRF is an esteemed research organization that investigates the human causes of road injuries and fatalities, and works with worldwide government, and law enforcement agencies, and other organizations to develop harm reduction strategies that are based on science rather than shock.

The new campaign, “Change The Conversation”, avoids the traditional tactics of scare and guilt (as seen in many MADD campaigns) and instead focusses on reinforcing the positive behaviours of the majority of Canadian drivers and presenting that as the norm. As the campaign site states:

“The good news is that today, 81% of licensed drivers never drive after drinking. The bad news is that more than 30% of road deaths continue to be alcohol-related. It’s time to Change the Conversation. Learn more about the impaired driving problem and Speak Your Mind to prevent deaths and injuries on our roads. Share what you’re doing and what works with friends and communities across Canada to help others.”

The campaign backs its “normalization” statements with statistics and facts that reflect both the positive trends and pervasive dangers in Canada’s drinking and driving record.

The objective is to get Canadians, especially youth, to feel emboldened to speak their minds to peers who still drink and drive irresponsibly. Over the next few months, TIRF will be encouraging and sharing stories from people who have made a conscious choice not to drive intoxicated, and have spoken up for what they believe is right.

Of course, with a young audience and a pure social marketing message, this campaign mostly lives online. There is a campaign site,, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed (@changetheconvo) and an eventual YouTube Channel. The campaign just launched yesterday (Nov. 17) so it may take some time to see these channels fully engage users.

Robyn Roberston, President and CEO of TIRF, summarizes: “This campaign is really about providing the public with good, easy to access and understand information that they can use to talk about the issue in their own social networks.”

Yesterday’s launch was attended by partners, politicians, law enforcement and well-wishers, and included demonstrations of breathalyzers, ignition interlock systems, and a driving simulator that challenged people to navigate virtual streets while wearing actual “beer goggles”…

There are also radio PSAs, written by Acart and produced by TIRF, that are getting picked up by stations across Canada.

Thanks to all the partners who gave us the opportunity to do work that matters, and to designer Leslie Stewart for making it look so cool.

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