After shelving sexist anti-DUI campaign, TN making new effort

Sometimes it’s not what you say that’s a problem. It’s how you say it. Take the efforts of government to curb driving under the influence. No one would argue that the state of Tennessee shouldn’t be trying to reduce incidents of drunk driving and the subsequent accidents that result in injury and death. But earlier this year, officials launched a communication campaign that went over like a lead balloon. Critics called it sexist.

Now the state is directing efforts into a new campaign and the hope is that it will be better received than the last. According to news reports, the Department of Transportation has awarded a Texas-based media firm an $11.5 million contract to get Tennessee residents better educated about DUI and all other things related to highway safety.

Readers may be aware of how spectacularly the previous campaign tanked. It included an anti-DUI website that featured slogans that someone thought were clever, but most everyone else found to be sexist. One read, “Buy a drink for a marginally good-looking girl, only to find out she’s chatty, clingy and your boss’s daughter.”

The messages went viral and negative reaction was so great that the state wound up pulling the plug.

What the themes might be for the new campaign aren’t known at this point. What has been revealed is that while the previous campaign was fully funded by a federal grant, the new one will require the state to put up $2.5 million. Officials say the new effort will also provide not just anti-DUI messaging, but also programs to improve motorcycle safety and the use of seat belts.

While one of the reactions of the earlier campaign certainly had to have been some chuckles, there is nothing funny about being charged with driving under the influence. Even a first offense can be costly in terms of possible fines, jail time and license suspension time. That makes contacting an experienced attorney essential.

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