Soccer stars in anti-drink driving push

The Portman Group, set up by the drinks industry to promote sensible drinking habits, has enlisted top footballers in its latest anti-drink driving campaign, entitled “I’ll be Des”.

Launching this week, it will encourage groups of drinkers to ensure they have a designated driver, or “Des”, to drive them home. It is being backed by the Football Association, Scottish FA, Premier League and supporters associations in England and Scotland.

The campaign will cost the Portman Group the bulk of its &£2m budget, which compares with about &£200m a year spent by the drinks industry on advertising alcohol. Last year, there were 460 deaths in the UK related to drink-driving.

The initiative is being launched by Gary Lineker and Graham Le Saux in London, and Alan Hansen and John Barnes in Glasgow. The Portman Group hopes they will help it to reach its target audience of 18- to 24-year-old males, who are statistically most likely to drink and drive.

A key feature of the campaign is training bar staff to ask groups of young men which one of them is going to be Des, in the hope that the term will become commonly used.

Portman Group spokesman Graham Goodwin says: “We want people to designate a non-drinking driver every time. We have had a great deal of support for the campaign at grass-roots level already.

“It is going to be PR-led and we are depending on people to get behind it.”

The group is understood to have approached presenter Des Lynam, but then decided not to involve him in the launch to avoid confusion. Goodwin says: “It is not about being Des Lynam, or any other Des. It’s about being a ‘Des-ignated’ driver.”

The campaign is being co-ordinated by PR company Lexis.

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