A recent NHS campaign attempting to highlight the dangers of excessive alcohol binges tells its devoted televisual audience in its closing message that “If a man/woman drinks more than 10 units of alcohol a week it could add up to a serious health problem.” The advert is pointless and useless in achieving its aim: to spread the word that binge drinking is a bad thing. The message is simply not specific enough! Everyone knows that too much booze is bad for your health, so what does this advert tell us that is new exactly?
Nothing in all honesty. A sane person knows about their individual limits when it comes to alcohol consumption, but most of us choose to ignore it! Drivers in my experience tend to be the most responsible drinkers, but this is unsurprising as the battle between being too lazy to walk usually triumphs of the conscious decision to get inebriated with your mates at the Monkeys.
The NHS Choices website (http://www.units.nhs.uk/media-press.html) has a multitude of facts that it flings out of the press release. Some of the facts are quite disturbing. For example, the average glass of wine contains more units of alcohol per serving than when the unit guidelines were first decreed. They claim that the campaign is all about “helping people understand how many units are in their favourite drinks, and helping them to keep an eye on their intake for the good of their long-term health.” But does the advert actually achieve this?
A series of close-ups of numerous people pouring glasses of wine casually forcing alcohol down their traps due to various peer pressure situations, also involves computer generated numbers being formed from the foam and condensation of the beverages thus indicating the number of units per glass. For some strange reason the unnecessarily ambiguous statement is then tagged onto the end. All this is achieves is for the viewer to ask “What health problems?!” After the market has been saturated with many adverts attempting to pull at our heartstrings on various guilt laden topics ranging from speeding to smoking, why is the NHS spewing this tripe into the mix? Do they really think that the audience is so idiotically naïve that they will simply accept that too much alcohol is bad without the generic scare factor? The advert effectively tells us that alcohol is bad and may cause some kind of illness. Pointless!
But perhaps I am being a bit harsh, YouGov tells us that 77 per cent of those questioned were not able to correctly identify the number of alcoholic units in various drink combinations. If the NHS campaign can do some good then perhaps it is worth it in the long run. If it does lead to people taking more notice of what they consume and the effects that it has on their bodies then perhaps the way the message is released is not the most important thing.
Ultimately I feel though that a message as important as this cannot be mucked up without devastating effect – presuming that it has an effect at all! People need specific things to fear when it comes to their health. With smoking it is lung cancer. With fatty foods its heart disease. With alcohol you would expect it to be liver disease. But liver disease is not glamorous enough for the masses! Could this be the reason why they aren’t being specific? I’ll end this article by leaving up the NHS Direct quote for what it actually causes. For a better resulting campaign they should have listed a few of these rather than leave it up to our imagination. Adverts such as this are supposed to inform us about the world, not confuse or hide the facts.
"Excessive alcohol consumption is proven to play a significant role in the development of numerous diseases, including several cancers, heart disease and stroke. That's why this campaign is so important to the public's health." – Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo.