LCBO deflates elephant in the room

In its first interactive social responsibility campaign, the LCBO lets hosts practice take-the-keys-away strategies online, with a new microsite promoted through TV, print and online executions.

Holiday party hosts may find themselves in an awkward situation this season if a friend grabs the car keys to drive home after drinking. Those who want tips on different ways to stop them can find them on the new Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) site,, which features party scenarios and offers various exercises and tips on how to diffuse an uncomfortable situation.

The $1.6 million ‘Deflate the Elephant’ campaign launched Friday at the opening of LCBO’s new store on King Street West in Toronto, with MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie deflating an actual 12-foot inflatable elephant. Creative supporting the campaign, developed by Toronto-based Due North Communications, includes two 15-second spots that will air on conventional stations starting this Wednesday during shows like Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, Survivor and The National. Online ads will also appear on sites like,, and until January. Print ads will appear in LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine. was designed by Dashboard Communications.

The liquor retailer wanted a different take on the ‘don’t drink and drive’ message, said Steve Erwin, senior communications consultant, corporate communications, LCBO. ‘From a marketing perspective, it’s a very mature message. It’s been around for years. It’s still an important one that needs to be repeated, but most people understand what the risks of drinking and driving truly are,’ Erwin told MiC. The aim of the campaign is to engage those who actually want to do something about it, he added.

Traditionally, anti-DUI messages are targeted at the friend of the male driver, but because research indicates women are increasingly likely to drink and drive, this campaign targets both males and females aged 25 to 54.

‘This is a first for an interactive idea like this,’ said Erwin. ‘It puts them in a simulation where they’re asked to stop a friend from getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. That’s a different strategy for us, but it’s one we’re hoping will engage people.’