denis o'flynn quote web

Tis the season to be jolly. An impressive 38 million people visited pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants last Christmas, while even more will have raised a glass with friends and family at home.

A small minority will mistakenly decide to get behind the wheel after drinking. The latest AA stats reveal that people expect to drive to social events more often over Christmas than usual due to overcrowded and disrupted public transport.

So what can we do to address the risk and make for a safer Christmas period? At Pernod Ricard we’re partnering with the AA to emphasise the don’t drink and drive message. Spearheaded by our Jameson Irish Whiskey brand, we’re reminding young adult males in particular - who are more likely than other groups to drink and drive (74% of drink- driving casualties are males, with the highest proportion of deaths reported for 25 to 39-year-olds) - to stay safe with a series of targeted messages including ‘The key to a great night? No car key’ and ‘Enjoy your evening - and your tomorrow.’

We know digital media connects best with the target audience so we’ve used hyper-targeted technology and road safety data to deliver the campaign to the audience in key accident hotspots, for example in the North West, South East and East of England, while all our creatives will urge our target audience to enjoy Jameson responsibly, and to visit the AA and for more information.

The messages will also be altered depending on gender, age and location, while the targeted digital ads will run on Facebook to ensure we maximise awareness of the dangers of drink-driving not only over the Christmas but through the year.

Some people will be surprised to see an alcohol brand fronting a campaign like this and I’m often asked about the drinks industry’s approach to alcohol harm. The reality is we want to reduce and ultimately eradicate negative drinking behaviours, including drink-driving. Our business is only sustainable if people drink responsibly. Our consumers want to purchase from responsible companies and our employees want to work for businesses that do the right thing.

At Pernod Ricard UK, we have zero tolerance in this regard. Thankfully today’s younger adult is more aware and it is significantly less socially acceptable to drink and drive now. Certainly, the statistics are moving in the right direction; drink-driving deaths now account for 14% of road fatalities compared with 25% when records began in 1979. However a single accident or fatality is one too many.

Launching our campaign on Monday, AA president Edmund King will unveil new research showing how there are more temptations to drink and drive at this time of year, but that there is also more likelihood of being caught as half of all drivers would report a drink-driving stranger.

His message will be clear - if you’re going to drink, don’t drive. And if you’re going to drive, don’t drink. It’s a message we should all take on board. So join me in raising a glass - to staying safe this festive season.

Denis O’Flynn is MD of Pernod Ricard UK