"It was worth all the risk in the world"- Drive Dry responds to backlash over #VWDriveDry campaign featuring Nomuzi

Nomuzi 'Moozlie' Mabena's big campaign reveal had South Africans talking over the weekend
Nomuzi 'Moozlie' Mabena's big campaign reveal had South Africans talking over the weekend

In case you missed it, Nomuzi Mabena, Volkswagen (VW) and Drive Dry debuted a campaign against drinking and driving on Friday in a manner that had many tongues wagging and thumbs jogging on smartphones. 


The message? Necessary and long overdue.

The execution? "Triggering, irresponsible and insensitive," according to the internet. 

And the internet's sentiments were certainly not far from valid. 

READ MORE: Ethics brought into question as Nomuzi IG Live staged car accident is confirmed as part of a road safety campaign 

This is why we figured it's best to hear from the horses' mouths as to what sparked this approach.

Drive Dry's Nicci Mitchell and the face of the campaign, Nomuzi Mabena, answered the questions on everybody's minds after the big reveal on Friday: 

What were the main campaign objectives of #VWDriveDry? 

Together, Volkwagen and Drive Dry partnered with Nomuzi Mabena to create a conversation about the prevalence of drunk driving in South Africa. It is still socially acceptable to have drinks and get behind the wheel. We wanted to highlight that it is never okay.

Celebrate life, but do it responsibly. The idea behind this campaign is to shift perceptions and inspire change in the behaviour of South Africans – specifically the youth when it comes to drinking and driving. Ultimately, we hope to urge consumers to make better decisions and getting them to think twice before driving under the influence and take the pledge to #VWDriveDry in 2019.  

There has been critique about the fact that the campaign somewhat missed the mark with regards to snapping and driving, as the official campaign focuses on sober driving. Do you think one needed to be addressed more than the other?

We support safe driving in general - neither drunk driving nor texting and driving are acceptable, and we believe that both these messages have been delivered effectively today. With that said, this campaign is primarily a drunk driving one and so we had Moozlie posting content the whole way through December indicative of her drinking and then driving – and there was no social outcry.

Prior to the release of the accident video, she is shown drinking wine and leaving her boyfriend’s house looking a little under the weather. It was shocking to note that no one picked this up as an issue. This goes to show how numb our society is to the problem of drunk driving and how socially acceptable it in fact is. The campaign video which was released [on Friday] is clear as to what this campaign is about. 

How much negative backlash did you anticipate? 

We were prepared for the worst and spent countless hours going though all the potential risks involved.

In spite of this, we decided that the message needed to be delivered to South Africa in a way that would capture attention and spark conversation. If just one life can be saved as a result of this campaign, then it was worth all the risk in the world.

Do you think #VWDriveBy will achieve its intended outcome despite the current outrage?

Once people have had some time to absorb the real reason behind this campaign, we hope to see them channel that energy into making a difference. In the same way they shared the accident video – we hope that they will share the campaign video and take the #VWDriveDry pledge to make it all worth while. This hashtag [was] trending so it looks like it will pay off. 

There are also concerns about insensitivity – what is your response to that?

We are incredibly empathetic to people who have been in or lost family members from these kinds of accidents and this is the precise reason that we have taken part in this campaign.

We wanted to spark a dialogue between South Africans on how we condone and respond to people that choose to drink and drive, especially among the youth. If one person decides to make a change in their behaviour, that one change could be one less fatality on our roads.

We hope to inspire as many drivers as possible to make this change.

Furthermore, Volkswagen in partnership with Drive Dry, a Diageo South Africa initiative, shared the following sentiments pushing for changed driving behaviour: 

In light of there being close to 14 000 road deaths in South Africa over the last three years, this month, as South Africans make their new year’s resolutions, VW and Drive Dry, seek to make a positive change when it comes to drinking and driving by urging people to pledge to #VWDriveDry in 2019 in order to make the party stop before their life does.

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