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In many parts of the world, consuming beverages containing alcohol is considered an effective way of unwinding and socialising with friends, co-workers or even family. When enjoyed in moderation, alcohol has a legitimate role for adults of legal age who choose to consume it. It can also be an aspect of a healthy lifestyle that involves exercise and eating right. Underlining all the positive aspects of alcohol consumption is the need to drink responsibly. On the other hand, too much drinking is associated with a risk of health and social dangers, including damage to internal organs, increased risk of accidents, and inability to properly function in a work or family setting. 

It is with this in mind that a campaign in Japan called ‘Sleeping Drunks Billboard’ was set up to advocate responsible drinking among the working population. Similar to many cities, the working men and women in Japan like to enjoy themselves after a long week, with many preferring to go out drinking on Friday nights. However, this drinking has peculiar effects, so that many get drunk and fall asleep on the streets, something that, while considered normal, prompted the Yaocho Bar Group together with Ogilvy & Mather Japan to address it by using the drunks as billboards. 

Armed with printed headlines and duct tape, the teams would find people who had passed out and would tape a frame around them together with a hashtag (#nomisugi) that translates to drank too much next to them. They encouraged passers-by to take pictures; by sharing these on social networks, it would get people to drink in moderation. 

Despite the humour in some of the images that came out of the campaign, the message behind it was a serious one that Yaocho and Ogilvy hoped the public would appreciate. The driving force behind the campaign was Ajab Samrai, a chief creative officer at the advertising agency who had experience working with global brands for more than three decades. 

Binge Drinking and Alcoholism 

While Ogilvy’s creative method of raising awareness on drinking garnered attention, heavy drinking doesn’t always get the attention it deserves in the way drugs do. However, it is a prevalent issue that can be just as damaging and costly. Heavy drinking, apart from leading to health problems, can also be the gateway to other drugs and can eventually lead to addiction and other social issues. 

Similar to eating healthy, keeping drinking in check takes a concerted effort at an individual level. Becoming a responsible drinker requires knowing what one drink looks like, which is dependent on the type of beverage being consumed. Binge drinking, which involves consuming too much over a short period, is particularly common in novice and younger drinkers. 

There are risks associated with heavy drinking. The long-term effect on health is well-documented, but there are also serious short-term effects that go beyond the loss of inhibition. From driving crash injuries to loss of productivity, intoxication can be costly to society. For individuals, the key is to keep their consumption in check and to stay aware of risks that can occur in their immediate environment. 

Being mindful is one of the most important tactics for drinkers to employ so that they can stop when they feel they’ve had enough. Planning is also encouraged to help individuals know their limits and keep their intake to a manageable level. Having friends who share the same goals can enable accountability within a group, so that people hold each other accountable to staying within a set number of drinks for the night. While there’s a temptation to drink more in a social setting, having friends who will stick to the goals can reduce the urge to overdo it.