2020 applicants
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You wouldn’t sober, you shouldn’t drunk: how social advertising can change behaviour

  • Date

    Thu 14 Sep 17

Woman walking on a city street at night

The problem

You’re on a night out. You’re in a club. Everyone’s been drinking. And then somebody starts groping you. You really don’t like it, but they won’t stop. They seem to think it’s okay – given the time, the place and the number of drinks everyone’s had.

35% of women and 9% of men have reported receiving unwanted sexual contact on a night out, ranging from grabbing and groping to serious sexual assault. (YouGov, 2016)

So are the rules different on a night out? Of course they’re not.

If you wouldn’t do it or tolerate it when sober, then you shouldn’t when drunk and this was the key message of a campaign led by alcohol education charity, Drinkaware.

The ‘You Wouldn’t Sober, You Shouldn’t Drunk’ campaign targeted young adults in the North West of England through cinemas, advertising, posters, Spotify, YouTube and social media. The campaign team surveyed more than 2000 people before and after the campaign and their feedback was compared with those from a control group who had not been exposed to the campaign.

Where do we come in?

Now, Professor Paurav Shukla from Essex Business School and Dr Matthew Wood from the University of Brighton have looked into whether the campaign has changed attitudes. And they’ve found it really was a success with significantly more women saying they were less likely to tolerate unwanted sexual attention after seeing the campaign.

“Our evaluation showed that targeted social advertising can be effective in re-establishing boundaries, leading to a positive impact on anti-social behaviours.”
Professor Paurav Shukla Essex Business School

Professor Shukla said: “It has been observed by police in the UK that unwanted sexual attention in pubs, bars and nightclubs has become so common that people don't even bother reporting it.

“Our evaluation showed that targeted social advertising can be effective in re-establishing boundaries, leading to a positive impact on anti-social behaviours."

Dr John Larsen, Director of Evidence and Impact at Drinkaware, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the University of Essex on the evaluation of our 'You Wouldn’t Sober, You Shouldn’t Drunk,’ campaign which aimed to put an end to drunken sexual harassment, something that’s become part and parcel of a night out for too many young people.

“Drinkaware has now built upon the success of this campaign to develop a new strand which will encourage young people who are witnesses of sexual harassment to take action.”