Drunks Turned Into Human Adverts…

nomisugiPhoto Credit:  Yaocho Bar Group

We all know that there’s a problem with binge drinking in the UK. City centres on a Friday and Saturday night have become no-go zones unless you relish stepping over half eaten kebabs and playing dodge the drunk.
However, in Japan they take binge drinking to another level. On a typical weekend the streets are littered with sleeping people, and this isn’t because they are homeless but because they aren’t aware of their limits when it comes to alcohol. A social problem that has already got its own Facebook page dedicated to it.
But one company has seemingly found a genius way of cashing in on this anti-social behaviour, by turning drunks who have passed out on the streets in to human billboards that promote a campaign against excessive drinking.
The Yaocho Bar Group (oh the irony) who are reportedly behind this social awareness campaign aimed at reducing dangerous drinking practices in Japan are said to be fed up with sleeping drunks being classed as normal behaviour on Tokyo streets.
Working with advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather they took to the streets with duct tape, printed sheets of cardboard and a camera in order to make the impromptu adverts.
They coined the hashtag #nomisugo (meaning “too drunk”) and urged people to take part by snapping their own photos of sleeping drunks and uploading them to twitter and facebook.
One the face of it, it sounds like a decent idea but is it actually a good campaign and could it be used for any business?
Well, yes and no.
First let’s take a look at how this campaign has failed:
A quick visit to the Yaocho’s Facebook page show’s that they’re actually encouraging people to take part in the campaign by bribing them with free drinks…
They say that if you show the bar tender that you’ve tweeted pic of a sleeping drunk with the #nomisugi hashtag then you’ll get a free shot of tequila.
Encouraging people to shame those who’ve had too much booze with more booze isn’t really the best way to get around a problem like excessive drinking. In fact, it’s downright stupid.
Also, there’s the fact that taking images of people in Japan without their consent is actually illegal and could end up costing a lot more than what a shot of tequila is worth. Whilst there are no restrictions on taking photographs in the country, you cannot infringe on someone’s privacy – which is exactly what this campaign is suggesting that people do.
The campaign has also not looked at who its target market is, for a start it is in English and secondly it doesn’t mention the Yaocho bar (so they can’t be seeing any increased custom). This leads us to think that rather than it being a brainwave from the bar group it’s actually more likely to be a stunt from the advertising agency.
Despite this particular campaign having some serious flaws, there is the question about whether a similar stunt could work for businesses who are looking to amp up their promotion, especially if they are on a budget.
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook the perfect platforms for businesses who want to get word out without spending a fortune and piggy backing on popular news items or social problems is a common PR trick.
However, a word to the wise…If you are going to consider a publicity stunt like this, make sure that you think the whole story through before you try to hop on board. You don’t want to end up like Kenneth Cole who in the middle of the revolution in Egypt tried to hijack the #Cairo hashtag by tweeting an insensitive joke.
What do you think? Is publicly shaming a good angle for promoting a business?

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