Over at The Standard they are applauding the "It's Not OK" campaign because it has "been hugely successful. In a survey, 99% of Maori, 90% of Pacific people, and 90% of all those asked remembered the campaign."
Probably the same the same can be said of the "If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot," or the "Every cigarette is doing you damage," campaigns.
Yet the drinking and driving stats are not looking very flash. The percentage of fatal crashes with alcohol/drugs as a factor has been fairly steady over the ten years to 2007;
Self-reported use of tobacco statistics are unreliable but consumption of tobacco is not;
New research suggests the government may have been over optimistic when it said that smoking is decreasing.
Last year's New Zealand Health Survey showed for the first time that just under 20% of adults smoked.
But a study published in the New Zealand medical journal disputes those figures, saying the number of cigarettes released to the market actually increased by 7%.
It says smokers tend to under report their smoking and future health surveys should include biochemical tests of a smoker's status.
Now I know that drinking and driving/smoking has reduced from the 1980s and early nineties. If that was an effect of advertising, today, at best, the advertising may be said to be having a containing effect. The Standard will argue that the "It's Not OK" campaign can have the same early effect because it is something new.
But it isn't. There have been a number of police and Women's Refuge anti-domestic violence campaigns. There was the high profile anti-family violence campaign "Breaking the cycle" in the second half of the nineties. Don't try and tell us that we have only just been given 'the message' that domestic violence is not OK.
I wonder if all these hugely expensive tax-payer funded media campaigns are just glorified make-work schemes. I also wonder if they don't sometimes provoke an emotional backlash.
One thing is clear - getting the message is not the same thing as acting it on. Apart from an increase in reporting I do not expect the "It's not OK" campaign to effect a decrease in domestic violence. Not while we keep on turning out ever more culprits with welfare-created families.
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