BOSTON, DEC. 6 -- The Harvard School of Public Health announced plans today to launch a national campaign to curb drunken driving and alcohol abuse with the help of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
"Our aim is to mobilize the immense power of mass communications to curb accidents, prevent disease and promote good health," said Jay A. Winsten, director of the school's Center for Health Communication, which is coordinating the project.
"The key is to change social attitudes and practices regarding the appropriate use and non-use of alcohol," he said, noting that alcohol-related deaths rose 7 percent in the United States last year.
Working with a $250,000 grant from the Pew Memorial Trusts, the project will use advertising, public relations and marketing techniques to try to reduce the number of people who drive drunk, who accept rides from people who are drunk and who allow their guests to get drunk, he said.
The project will also focus on encouraging more people to adopt the "designated driver" concept, in which one member of a group abstains from drinking so he or she can drive the others home.
ABC has already agreed to produce a series of public service announcements with the "designated driver" theme to air on its network.
The project will provide reporters with story ideas about alcohol abuse and drunken driving and work with leading advertising, marketing, public relations and polling organizations to influence the attitudes and behaviors of target audiences.
The project also hopes to recruit corporations to pay for radio and television ads, recruit radio and television stations to start their own campaigns and get Hollywood producers, directors, writers and actors to help.
In addition, the project hopes to establish school programs and work through major religious, civic and business organizations to foster better understanding of strategies for helping problem drinkers.