“Draw the Line / Hasta Aquí “

Underage drinking was the #1 substance abuse problem in Arizona, with 24 percent of 8th graders admitting they drank and 75 percent of high school seniors reporting they binge drank, had been drunk at school, or tried alcohol. Many parents believed teenage drinking was simply a “right of passage” and less harmful than other drugs, but new scientific research proved that untrue.

In a marketplace cluttered with anti-substance messages for teens, a campaign was developed for the Governor’s Office of Children Youth & Families that armed parents with medical evidence, practical tips, and parent-to-parent support. Media relations, advertising, and a traveling pledge wall asked parents to “Draw the Line” by refusing to serve alcohol at home or anywhere to anyone underage.

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Proof & Partners

Key messages leveraged new science from Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinics, university research, CDC data, and statewide surveys from the prior 24 months to change adult perceptions.

  • SPECT scans of underage drinkers showed physical abnormalities of the brain, which are not found in healthy individuals.

  • 40 percent of kids who start drinking before age 15 will become alcoholics, compared to 7 percent of those who begin at age 21.

  • 47 percent of alcoholics became hooked before age 21.

A community prevention coalition of 22 governmental groups, including the Navajo Nation and Luke Air Force Base, helped to combat permissive adult attitudes about underage drinking and “social hosting.”

Partners received web resources, posters, handouts, guest editorials from local teens and parents, and PR support. Paid advertising was distributed statewide, including at bus stops, mall kiosks, in print and online. A traveling pledge wall created a central place for meaningful conversation and a place that parents or teens could sign their names. The exhibit was featured at shopping malls, an art gallery, and other public events.


POWERFUL Testimonials

Perhaps most powerful of all were the 40+ personal stories collected throughout the state from parents, teachers, lawmakers and teens. Testimonials were shared as part of a cover story in the state’s largest newspaper, in a blog for parents, on a YouTube channel, and in local news outlets.

Within nine months, state surveys showed a 16% increase in the number of adults who believe it is “not OK” for teens to drink under adult supervision, and an 18% increase in those who believe it is unhealthy for teens to drink at all. They accepted scientific proof that alcohol can cause irreversible damage to a young, developing brain. Most of all, they embraced the message that “you have the greatest influence.”