Nikita Richardson
July 14, 2015 11:26 am

Men drink and drive more than women do; in fact they are nearly twice as likely to drive while intoxicated—15.1 percent versus 7.9 percent, according to statistics gathered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)— than their female counterparts. That’s why the majority of anti-drunk driving ads tend to target (and feature) men—they’re most at risk of putting themselves and others in danger while driving under the influence. Accordingly, the state of Tennessee released a new anti-DUI campaign this week to address the problem, but officials went about creating their message in the completely wrong way.

The campaign was built on the concept of “beer goggles,” an idea (“the drunker I get the hotter she looks,” in essence) that’s usually aimed at women and is usually sexist and misogynist. Following their “beer goggles'” theme, Tennessee created coasters that say, “Buy a drink for a marginally good-looking girl, only to find out she’s chatty, clingy, and your boss’s daughter.” Another read: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember: If your judgement is impaired, so is your driving.” Ugh.

The public outcry against the campaign was swift, with several news outlets, including The Tennessean  and The Memphis Flyer calling the ads sexist.

In a statement made to The Tennessean, Kendell Poole, the director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, explained:

“We take feedback from the public seriously and want to thank all of those who have reached out to share their opinions with us. It was never the intent of our office to offend anyone. This new initiative was designed to reach the young male demographic, who are statistically more likely to drive under the influence. Well-known adages, like dating the boss’s daughter, were used to grab their attention within the bar environment. Our office continually experiments with new strategies in order to be effective with various target demographics, and we will be closely monitoring the results.”

It’s not exactly an out-and-out apology, but the complaints have resulted in the closure of the campaign’s website, which is good news. The bad news is that anyone thought this was an acceptable idea in the first place. Let’s hope future campaigns focus on teaching people that drinking and driving is dangerous and causes harm to other people, without dragging dated ideas about women into the process.

Images via Twitter

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