You have been warned, don’t drink ’til you drop in Tokyo, unless you want to find pictures of your drunk self, plastered all over social media, that is…
We’ve all been there. It’s the end of a long, hard week and all we want to do is let our hair down with a few of our friends and colleagues. So, we get drunk. Sometimes we get really, really drunk. We have very little memory of what happened, how we got home and what on earth we got up to. What we do know is we have a seriously sore head, and think (hope) a good time was had by all. Unfortunately though, in Japan, it seems that the cultural norm is to drink ’til you drop – in some cases literally, as a result of low alcohol tolerance levels and a binge drinking culture. Respectable business people are regularly found sleeping in the street due to excessive alcohol consumption. It’s seen as pretty normal to see business people slumped, passed out after an overly heavy night out on the tiles.
One of Tokyo’s leading bar chains, Yaocho Bar, came up with a concept to raise awareness of their home city’s love of dangerous levels of binge drinking. As a result of their clever, if arguably mean, outdoor ad campaign that has hit global headlines, suddenly people around the world are acutely aware of this extreme drinking practice rife in Japan’s capital city.
With a view to using the importance honour plays in Japanese culture, Yaocho Bar decided to use these sleeping drunks to create ‘live’ sleeping billboards. A team of people hit the streets at prime “sleeping drunk” time, armed with a Billboard Creation Kit, including a roll of tape and some pre-made-up branding. The hashtag #nomisuig which directly translates as “drank too much” features in the make-shift “frame of shame”.
Passers-by were encouraged to take pictures of the Sleeping Drunk Billboards, and were asked to share the pictures on as many social media channels as possible. While some are claiming that it is cruel to drink-shame people who are already clearly in a position of vulnerability, the campaign has, without a doubt, shone a light on an unhealthy and dangerous cultural norm, while raising awareness of the bar chain itself, showing them to be both playful and thoughtful.
I think the campaign has resonated with drinkers globally, because it promotes a positive message that while having fun and enjoying ourselves we should all drink smart and be safe, and know our limits.