Jay Winsten and the Designated Driver Campaign

Case Solution

Howard Koh, Pamela Yatsko
Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative ()

Harvard T.H. Center for Health Communication Jay Winsten, director of the Chan School of Public Health, led a national media campaign, the Harvard Alcohol Project, also known as the Designated Driver Campaign, to quickly spread the word “Designated Driver” in the lexicon and American culture. The campaign broke new ground, in large part harnessing the power of the Hollywood entertainment community to spread messages and facilitate social learning on an unprecedented scale. The writers have incorporated the campaign message into the scripts of more than 160 primetime television episodes in four television seasons. The campaign persuaded many Americans to choose a specific driver – that is, a member of a social group who agreed to stay sober to safely drive others in the group who had drunk alcohol. The campaign was a model for a generation of advocates trying to mobilize the power of Hollywood to advance social causes, and convinced funding organizations that media campaigns are worth sponsoring.

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