The Cape Argus’s ‘name and shame’ campaign, in which it publishes a list of people caught, driving drunk, has garnered the newspaper an award at the inaugural Brandhouse Responsible Drinking Awards held in Johannesburg this week.
“It’s great to be recognised for our contribution,” said executive editor, Gasant Abarder. “It is such a huge issue and needs drastic intervention.”
The Argus decided to get involved in the anti drunk driving crusade due to a number of different circumstances. Western Cape MEC for Transport, Robin Carlisle, announced his decision to target drunk drivers through its Safely Home campaign – part of a national initiative – at the same time as Independent Newspapers, to which the Argus belongs, became involved with Primedia in the LeadSA campaign. Lead SA “recognises that there are millions of ordinary South Africans who continually seek to do the right thing for themselves, for their families and for their country”.
“We believed we should become involved in encouraging South African’s to behave responsibly,” Abarder said. “A week after joining with LeadSA we went to a roadblock with the intention of looking at the issue. It emerged there, and from reports from traffic chief, Kenny Africa, that people would hate to be named and shamed in a newspaper for drunk driving. The transport department also believes it is a deterrent.”
With that, the Argus began its mission to expose drunk drivers that scooped the newspaper the best print campaign prize for its Wall of Shame campaign. Every six weeks, it publishes a list of the most recently convicted drivers sentenced in Western Cape criminal courts.
The drivers’ names are handed over to the provincial transport department for capture on the electronic eNatis database. The names are given to the transport department by magistrate’s courts across the province.
The campaign was launched in October last year and has seen the Argus publish the names of hundreds of people convicted of drinking and driving.
Organisers said the Brandhouse Responsible Drinking Media Awards aimed to recognise journalistic efforts in promoting the country’s responsible drinking agenda and ultimately to help change consumer behaviour.
“We are very proud of the number of entries we received, especially as it’s the first year of the awards,” said Priscilla Singh, corporate and brand PR manager at Brandhouse. “Most importantly, however, we were impressed by the quality and range of the entries we received.’’
As Abarder said, no one is trying to stop people enjoying going out for a drink and enjoying themselves, but “when you see how much money expensive wine and drinks cost, why not spend that bit more on a cab?”