Anti-binge drinking ads to be displayed at U

The ads will focus on the social side effects binge drinking can have.

When Michelle Gross began working on an advertising campaign for the National Student Advertising Competition as an undergraduate two years ago, she thought all the work the team did was hypothetical.
But as of Thursday, The Other Hangover — a student-designed and executed ad campaign highlighting the social side effects of binge drinking — is a reality at the University of Minnesota with mirror clings in residence hall bathrooms, posters on 20 campus area bus shelters and a billboard above Stub & Herbs that is going up this week.
With slogans like, “before you got wasted, you weren’t known as ‘The Creep’” and “reputations aren’t drunk-proof,” the campaign targets the social consequences of overconsumption.
When working on the ads, senior art, design and strategic communication major Laura Rask said the group had to choose its copy carefully to avoid accidentally glorifying binge drinking.
Last spring, the Century Council, a nonprofit organization against drunken driving and underage drinking, awarded the University a $75,000 grant to implement and evaluate the campaign.
Gross and Nathan Gilkerson, both graduate students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, set up a summer internship for eight undergraduate students to learn about the logistics of launching an ad campaign.
Many undergraduate students working on the campaign said they were surprised by the number of small details involved and by the fact that they were able to complete the project without the additional staff of a professional agency.
The original NSAC campaign was designed to be released nationwide with a $4 million budget, Gilkerson said. The group used the grant to adapt The Other Hangover to the campus community with a smaller budget.
But the original intent of the campaign is still there: to make students pause for self-reflection.
Gilkerson said the campaign is not about telling students to abstain from drinking alcohol but will show them what happens when they overdo it.
NSAC President Brian Bernier, who worked on the original campaign for the competition, said during their research, they found that students didn’t respond well to advertising that focused on the physical consequences of drinking or the more extreme situations of death and legal penalties.
“Our goal wasn’t to stop drinking. What we wanted to do was highlight the fun of what drinking can be and show the negative of what drinking a little too much can be,” Bernier said.
Although Bernier admitted it was “bittersweet” to not be involved during the execution of the campaign, he said he is glad to see it in the real world.
“It’s not like a group project that’s going to sit in a file folder,” he said, adding that he will be able to point out the ads to recruit more members to the NSAC team.
From the billboard in Stadium Village to coasters in campus bars and mirror clings at TCF Bank Stadium, students can expect to see ads everywhere soon.
Thursday was the official launch of The Other Hangover campaign, Gilkerson said, but some of the sidewalk clings installed on the mall area were already stolen early last week.
“I’d rather have this occur than people passing by and not noticing it,” said Rank.
Several of the group members agreed that their campaign probably touched a nerve with students but said they thought most students were supportive.
“So many of our friends were willing to be a part of it,” said Lauren Fink, a senior advertising major. One of her friends will have two months of fame as “The Creep” on the Stadium Village billboard.
When developing new photographs for the bus shelters, several members of the group acted as models.
Senior advertising major Hope Horstmann said she got really into a fight with another girl that was staged at Sgt. Preston’s for campaign material.
“I was afraid I might actually pull her hair out or something,” Horstmann said.