Portman says bingeing is hot gossip

The Portman Group, the alcohol industry funded lobby organisation that promotes sensible drinking, is hiring actors to hold embarrassing public conversations about the problems caused by drinking too much, in an attempt to get young people to cut back on binge drinking.

The first use of this so-called “gossip theatre” will be this weekend, in London. Four teams of two actors will move around the capital finding opportunities to get the messages across. A spokesman for the Portman Group says: “It could be in a bus queue, a café or the ladies’ changing room in Top Shop. We’re appealing to people’s worst nature – the urge to earwig and then repeat what you hear.”

Pairs of actors will deliver scripted conversations about their “personal experiences” of problems associated with over-indulgence in alcohol. Each execution will be about three minutes long and cover a significant problem, including sexually transmitted diseases and other health issues.

The push, which follows on from a successful “pub theatre” campaign (MW April 11), has the backing of the Metropolitan Police, the London Ambulance Service and the National Union of Students (NUS). Poster and radio ads will support the message.

The take-up by Student Unions has been “phenomenal”, the spokesman adds, because the NUS has become very aware of problems with young people abusing drink.

The Portman Group hopes to train teams of students to carry on with the “gossip” campaign.

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