Designated Driver Campaign marks 30 years

“Launched in 1988, the Harvard Alcohol Project sought to demonstrate how a new social concept, the “designated driver,” could be rapidly diffused through American society via mass communication, catalyzing a fundamental shift in social norms relating to driving-after-drinking. Such a shift was essential for curbing alcohol-related traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among young adults aged 15-24. Through this Project, the Center became the architect of the “designated driver” campaign in the United States, importing the concept from Scandinavia.

The Harvard Alcohol Project represented a genuine breakthrough for public health. It marked the first time that a health institution joined forces with the communications industry on a project of this magnitude. All major Hollywood studios participated along with the ABC, CBS, and NBC television networks. Channels, a respected trade journal, called the extent of this industry involvement “unparalleled,” and The New York Times lauded the initiative in an editorial.

Find more from Harvard School of Public Health (December 2018)

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