Binge Meets Nudge

This presentation by a group of Johnson & Wales University ad students showcases some of the smartest thinking I've ever seen coming from persuasion pros of any age and caliber. It was presented at the AAF's student ad competition, whose topic this year was combating student binge drinking.

Their plan is based on a simple insight: just like you cannot scare smokers into quitting, you can't nag students into not drinking, which is the path much of the existing communication has taken. Instead, the group focuses on creating the right choice architecture that prevents unsafe drinking, the approach popularized by the recently published book Nudge: "There are subtle but effective ways to nudge the two critical elements that cause binge drinking -- how much and how fast students drink -- providing students with choices that result in safer behavior."

This presentation was the best in New England but didn't do as well in the national finals -- I am guessing because it's not exactly advertising. If for you "creative" means just this kind of thinking, then here are the names of the students on the team; many of them are still on the job market:

Juan Alvarado (who worked with us as a spring intern at the agency and who introduced me to the project and the book), Abigail Agress, Foluso Akinkuotu, Sierra Barter, Andrew Childers, Ginelle DeAntonis, Victoria Deetz, Evan Dunn, Yousef Khory, Audrey Kushner, Bruce Millard, Joseph Russomano, Jonathan Vega, Nicholas Verrochi (advisors: Oscar Chilabato, Tom Monahan, Christine Ure).

- A video of the JWU presentation can be viewed here. (Thanks, Tom)
- A competing book from University of Minnesota is here (Thanks, Erin)


  1. As a fellow competitor, Johnson & Wales had a stellar presentation. It's hard to keep my attention and they managed to do that. Their promotions based campaign was different and it was nice to see their creative approach.

    I was part of the University of Minnesota team. From day one it was clear that a winning campaign would need to challenge all previous drinking messages. J & W also nailed this. We focused on what we found students to value most - their reputations. Our campaign, The Other Hangover, focuses on the social consequences of over-consumption. Our book can be viewed on here

  2. The other JWU Ad Team advisers and I are extremely proud of this extraordinary group of students. If you're interested in seeing a video of their presentation see links at bottom of page -

    Tom Monahan


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