Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


General summary Levels of awareness of the campaign were high amongst both parents and young people: at the post wave, the level of total awareness amongst parents was 83% and young people 86%. Levels of spontaneous awareness increased significantly from the pre wave but there had not been any significant increases in levels of total awareness, amongst both parents (pre 77%, post 83%) and young people (pre 92%, post 86%), since the pre wave. The absence of any increase in the level of total awareness at the post wave is probably due to the high levels of external noise at the pre wave, resulting in inflated pre wave figures, rather than the campaign not having made an impact. As might be expected, proven recall of the “Why Let Drink Decide?” campaign increased at the post wave, for both parents (pre 0%, post 13%) and young people (pre 0%, post 10%) but proven recall of the “Know Your Limits” campaign was higher (parents post 18%, young people post 25%), despite last being aired in 2009. Levels of ad recognition were high at the post wave: 78% of parents and 84% of young people recognised at least one of the ads they were shown. The ratio of recognition as a proportion of spend was high and suggests that the campaign is performing well, despite being in the initial launch phase. Ad messaging is resonating strongly with both parents and young people and recognisers tended to pick up on more message than non-recognisers, suggesting exposure to the campaign is key in driving these forward. Messaging resonated strongly with parents with nine in ten (87%) parents agreeing that the ads told them they should speak to their children about alcohol before it becomes a problem and three quarters (73%) agreeing that the ads showed it’s not too early to speak to your child about alcohol. Young people also picked up strongly on the messaging with 84% agreeing that the ads told them that they should stay in control when they drink alcohol and four in five (81%) young people agreeing that the ads told them that young people who drink alcohol are more likely to be hurt or harmed. Call to action was strong, with three in four (76%) parents and seven in ten (71%) young people saying that they had taken or were planning on taking some action as a result of seeing the campaign. One in twenty parents (5%) and young people (4%) correctly identified that the ads had come from the DCSF. Most (91% parents, 68% young people) were aware that the ads originated from the government, but this did not impact on response to the ads. Claimed conversations about alcohol At the post wave, three in four parents (77%) said that they felt confident talking to their child about the dangers of drinking alcohol. This is a significant decrease on the pre wave’s 89%. This decrease can be attributed to an inflated pre-wave score rather than there being anything in the campaign that could lead to a decrease in confidence. A comparison of campaign recognisers and non recognisers in the pre wave confirmed that those who had been exposed to the campaign were more likely to be confident about broaching the subject of alcohol with their child. At both waves, seven in ten parents claimed to have spoken to their child about alcohol. Similarly, there was no change over time in the proportion of young people who said that they had talked with their parents about alcohol: 63% in the U&A wave and 62% in the post wave. For both parents and young people, exposure to the ‘Why let drink decide’ campaign appears to have had an impact on the topics discussed during these conversations, though this was observed to a lesser extent for the young people. Rules and strategies around alcohol Around three quarters (79% parents, 76% young people at the post stage) said that there were rules in place around drinking alcohol, although there was a decline in the proportion of young people saying that rules were in place for them, from 83% at the pre-stage. There was no evidence that this decline, or prevalence of rule setting at all were linked to campaign activity. . There was a decline in the proportion of parents saying that they always enforce the rules they set for their child around drinking alcohol: falling from 70% at the pre-wave to 55% at the post wave, though again no evidence that this is linked to campaign activity. Around a third of young people at both waves said that rules their parents have set for them are always stuck to. Around nine in ten parents said they felt confident that the things they have done will help their child to have a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol. There were no strong links between campaign exposure and levels of confidence. Recognition and personalisation of the risks of drinking alcohol Around half of parents (50% post wave) and two fifths of young people (41% post wave) definitely agreed that young people who drink alcohol are more likely to be hurt or harmed. Those aware of or recognising the campaign at the post wave were more likely to definitely agree, suggesting that the campaign may have had an impact here. There has been a significant increase in perception of personal risk of harm after drinking alcohol amongst young people, and there is evidence that the campaign has helped to increase this. Parents were less likely than young people to perceive that their child is at personal risk, and the proportions thinking this have remained unchanged over time. Social norms Around three in ten parents (31% post wave) and a similar proportion of young people agreed that it is never right for under 15s to drink alcohol. The proportion of young people agreeing a lot increased significantly between the pre and post waves (23% pre wave, 33% post wave). Amongst both parents and young people, those recognising campaign materials were more likely to definitely agree/agree a lot. This may suggest that the campaign is helping to drive up this perception. Around a quarter of parents at both waves (24%) definitely agreed that it’s safer to introduce children to alcohol gradually, like they do in Europe. This perception remained unchanged over time, and there were no differences in response based on exposure to the campaign. There were no significant changes over time in perceptions of how prevalent youth drinking is. Around half of parents at both waves (56%) thought that more than 10% of young people of their child’s age drink alcohol regularly and around a quarter (27% post wave) think that more than half do so. Amongst young people, the strong perception is that most others are drinking more than them: 53% at both waves thought that their friends drink more than them, and 76% that other people of their age drink more than them. Positively, though, there was no evidence that the campaign has worked to normalise youth drinking amongst either parents or young people, as those exposed to the campaign did not tend to think that drinking is more common than average. Claimed drinking behaviour A third of parents and seven in ten young people said that their child/they had ever had drunk alcohol (a full drink and not just a sip), and the proportions saying this did not change from wave to wave. Prevalence of drinking increased with age, rising from 12% (reported by parents of children in year 6) to 82% (reported by young people in year 13). There was a high degree of consistency in reported prevalence by parents and young people, with around half of those in/with children in years 9-10 saying that they/their child had ever drunk alcohol. Amongst young people, those who lived with someone they perceived to be a heavy drinker were more likely to have ever drunk alcohol themselves: this highlights the importance of campaign messaging aimed at parents encouraging them to think about the drinking behaviour of other adults in the household.

Research objectives


The research aimed to evaluate the campaign against its key performance indicators (KPIs) which were agreed before the campaign launch.



The ‘Why let Drink Decide?’ campaign aimed to target parents and young people, and to raise awareness of the risks of young people drinking alcohol by highlighting the short and long term risks of youth drinking. By equipping parents and young people with tools, strategies and information, the campaign aims to encourage conversations about alcohol within a household before it becomes a problem. The campaign was launched on 15th January 2010 and ran until mid-March. Separate parent and young people campaigns were run with the knowledge that there would be some level of crossover between the two campaigns. In particular, the campaign aimed to communicate with young people in the youngest age groups through their parents. The parent campaign employed TV, online, radio, outdoor and press advertising and partnership activity with a total spend of just over £2million. Spend on the young people’s campaign was lower at £700K, and included cinema, outdoor, press and online advertising and partnership activity. Please note that this research was commissioned by the Department for Children Schools and Families under the previous administration and not is necessarily representative of current government policy

Quick summary


Research was commissioned to evaluate the campaign and assess campaign performance, including measuring both short term and long term Key Performance Indicators. The campaign appears to have been well received by both parents and young people. The call to action was particularly strong, with more than seven in ten of parents and young people saying that they had taken or would take some action as a result of the campaign.

Audience Summary








Young people in years 9-13, Parents of children in years 6-10

Social Class






The evaluation took the form of a pre and post stage design. The majority of information which formed the pre wave survey was taken from the Usage and Attitudes (U&A) survey that was conducted in August 2009, and from which the segmentation and quadrants were derived. This covered most of the subjects needed for the evaluation but some additional information was required. In order to ‘top up’ the information from the U&A survey, some respondents from the original U&A survey were recontacted by telephone in January and asked the supplementary questions required. The post wave survey was conducted in a very similar way to the U&A survey that was conducted in 2009: the sample was drawn using random location sampling methods, and interviews were conducted face to face, in home, using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). Quotas were set within sampling points to ensure the sample was representative. Parent quotas were set on gender and working status of the parent, and gender and school year of their child. Young people quotas were set on age and gender of the young person themselves. The sample was cross-sectional (i.e. none of the U&A or pre wave respondents were included in the post wave survey).

Data collection methodology


Sample size


Pre Wave: 539 interviews with parents and 469 interviews with young people; Post Wave: 527 parent interviews and 508 young people interviews

Fieldwork dates


Sept 2009

Contact Name

Louisa Marsh



Research Manager

Agree to publish



Research agency


COI Number