The ‘Pacing’ campaign’s focus is driven by the fact that while average adult consumption here has declined by 17 per cent since 2001, the prevalence of frequent binge-drinking (defined as having five drinks or more at least once a week) is highest in Ireland at 44 per cent according to a 2009 European survey. (In a 2009 Eurobarometer Survey this figure was 10 percentage points less than the 54 per cent reported in 2006.)
drinkaware.ie’s Fionnuala Sheehan believes the main cultural challenge to be addressed in terms of Irish drinking behaviour is reducing the amount people drink on each drinking occasion. While we drink relatively infrequently compared to our European counterparts, we drink a relatively large amount on an occasion of drinking and we drink at a faster pace, she said.
The campaign makes use of TV, video-on-demand, cinema and radio advertising along with extensive outdoor advertising and innovative use of social media.
drinkaware.ie’s communications campaign represents the latest phase in an overall ‘Rethinking Our Drinking’ Strategy which MEAS/drinkaware.ie has been conducting since 2007. The overall objective is to change the prevailing culture pertaining to drinking in Ireland, including our level of tolerance for drunkenness and the behaviour of people when they are drunk.
She noted, “Our average adult consumption approached the mid-ranked OECD countries’ levels in 2011, having declined by almost 19 per cent in the last decade”. Based on the CSO’s adult population figures to the end of March 2012 the average 2011 adult alcohol consumption in Ireland was 11.6 litres of pure alcohol (lpa), some three per cent less than the recently-published 11.97 lpa figure for 2011, she said.
“Research shows that significant progress has been made in our attitudes to excessive drinking and is reflected in the reduction in public order and related offences, in improved drink-driving behaviour and significantly lower road fatalities.”
According to the 2009 Eurobarometer Survey published in 2010, three per cent of Irish adult drinkers drink daily compared with 43 per cent of Portuguese, and 69 per cent of EU alcohol consumers usually have two drinks or less on a drinking occasion. Research by Millward Browne Lansdowne (MLB) in January 2012 found that the average number of drinks consumed by Irish drinkers over 18 during the last drinking occasion was 5.6 in the pub/club and 4.2 at home, with younger drinkers consuming larger amounts. (A drink means a standard drink, i.e. a glass (not a pint) of beer/lager/cider, or a pub measure of spirits, or a small glass of wine).
“The ideal pace to drink at is one standard drink per hour as this reflects the amount of alcohol our bodies can on average process in this period of time,” stated Fionnuala Sheehan, “The practice of drinking in rounds remains quite engrained in Ireland and often results in the group drinking to the pace of the fastest drinker. ‘Pre-loading’ in the home before going out has become prevalent particularly amongst younger consumers,” added Fionnuala Sheehan, “Our new ‘Pacing’ campaign challenges our drinking style, encourages us to take control of our drinking and motivates us to enjoy the benefits of a more moderate style of drinking.
Today’s launch marks the start of a journey towards a more moderate drinking pace in Ireland. We are encouraged by the findings in MLB’s January 2012 research; 70 per cent of respondents felt that one to two standard drinks per hour was a reasonable drinking pace.”
MLB’s research over the past five years suggests that positive cultural change is taking place in Ireland and its latest research wave, undertaken in January 2012, shows:
- 86 per cent of the public agree that excessive drinking is becoming less acceptable.
- 89 per cent agree that there is growing awareness of the effects of excessive drinking
- 92 per cent agree that being drunk in public is very unattractive to the opposite sex.
- 83 per cent now organise transport to avoid anyone in the group drink-driving.
This research also shows that knowledge of key pieces of information by consumers is growing:
§ 63 per cent of Irish adults now know what one standard drink is
§ 51 per cent of Irish adults now know how long it takes the body to eliminate alcohol.
The new drinkaware.ie TV ad is available to view here