SAB ‘reality check’ ad campaign and Responsible Drinking

SAB Limited

As part of a multi-faceted initiative to combat alcohol abuse in South Africa, the South African Breweries Ltd (SAB) launched a bold advertising campaign to counter prevailing alcohol abuse amongst South African drinkers.  This follows the announcement by SAB last month that it would step up significantly its anti-abuse and responsible consumption activities nationwide.

Targeted at drivers and mothers-to-be, the R50-million ‘reality check’ campaign is the largest investment to date by the SAB in raising awareness about the negative consequences of irresponsible drinking. Intended to be a complementary campaign to other external and internal programmes, both from SAB and other companies and strategic stakeholders (such as law enforcement agencies and government), the campaign aims to educate drinkers on the personal and societal consequences of drinking while pregnant and driving under the influence.

“SAB is committed to addressing drink driving and foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) proactively and pragmatically.  This campaign challenges some of the myths, as well as excuses, used to justify the irresponsible drinking and driving, and the unacceptably high prevalence of FAS in some parts of the country,” points out Vincent Maphai, Director of Corporate Affairs and Transformation at SAB and the person responsible for spearheading the campaign.  “We want to change mindsets and ensure that more South Africans understand the added personal responsibilities that come with consuming alcohol.”

Created primarily as a national public education campaign, ‘reality check’ presents a range of scenarios and perceptions, each offering a ‘reality check’ on the ramifications of various inconsiderate and short-sighted views and activities associated with irresponsible alcohol consumption

“Not to be considered in isolation, this series of ads is a serious wake-up call that we hope will prompt changes in attitudes and behaviours among South African drinkers, supported by their family, friends and colleagues,” adds Maphai.

Public engagement points for the campaign will include washrooms, campuses, carwashes, buses and other high traffic outdoor areas.  In addition, the campaign will be presented in mass reach media, like newspapers, radio, magazines and billboards.

“The campaign is very matter of fact and to-the-point about the potential impact on your life and the lives of others, including an unborn child,” explains Suhana Gordhan, Creative Director at Black River FC, the agency responsible for the development of the ‘reality check’ campaign.  “Rather than using metaphors and graphic imagery, the ads are pared down, challenging anti-social attitudes and misplaced notions with direct and simple messages.”

Whilst the ad campaign is intended to impact public awareness and perceptions, SAB is also driving a series of on-the-street programmes with law enforcement agencies that aim to improve police capabilities in arresting and prosecuting drivers under the influence.  Set up to be a practical and effective deterrent to drinking and driving, these programmes will be announced in the coming weeks, together with the relevant strategic partners.

Outdoor ads focused on addressing FAS will target specific communities in the Western and Northern Cape and augment a series of prevention and education initiatives to be announced as part of a comprehensive partnership with a South African-based NGO.

“We believe that through effective partnerships, better enforcement and sustained communication, we can help to address many of the problems associated with alcohol abuse,” suggests Maphai.

“SAB is really putting its money where its mouth is with this campaign”, says Gordhan. “In terms of media value, ‘reality check’ is among the top-three of SAB’s brands.  As an agency, we can hardly look for better commitment.”


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