January! One of the three designated months for time-based social media campaigns.
The others, of course, being October (Stoptober) and November (Movember). March to August are pretty much disqualified for not having proper month names anyway, and Christmas has December down. You can’t compete with Christmas.
January is fortunate enough to have two campaigns running concurrently for people who really want to go through radical lifestyle changes during the most depressing part of the year – Dry January (for giving up alcohol) and Veganuary (go vegan for a month!). Whilst some people do take on these challenges for health or ethical reasons, for most it’s a sort of penance to the wild excesses of December in both the booze and meat+cheese departments, and the next best thing to a New Year’s Resolution (because you only have to keep it for a month).
However, recently it seems that unlike Stoptober and Movember, Dry January in particular has been the subject of a certain amount of kickback from brands and consumers alike. It’s possibly just a show of rebellious noncompliance against social trends – it’s cool to pretend to not care about these things now – but you don’t tend to find the same resistance to Stoptober and Movember. It’s very not cool to be pro-prostate or -lung cancer. So why do pubs have no qualms about advertising ‘dry gin’ for Dry January? Weirdly, despite vegans usually being the butt of many a joke, even Veganuary seems to be a lot better marketed and received than Dry January.
One reason is that whilst there are plenty of vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products these days (you didn’t miss the Gregg’s drama, did you?), for so many people there isn’t an obvious alternative, on a night you’d normally go to the pub for a drink, other than going to the pub and staring miserably at a glass of coke whilst other people drink around you. Understandably, under this pressure, it’s easy to cave. And with pubs contributing to the mockery of Dry January, you’d feel justified doing so.
So how can Dry January increase participation and – more importantly – dedication to the cause, even if just for a month? There’s no doubt of the health benefits. It’s just that, when pushed, they just aren’t enough to convince people. One solution could be to collaborate with pubs and restaurants to provide more interesting alternatives to alcohol, just like the popularity of Veganuary has with brands that normally serve meat products, like Gregg’s. Enter the mocktail: often expensive, yes, but so is alcohol – and a virgin mojito is much more interesting than a diet coke or a J20. It doesn’t take away from the experience of night out, and it makes you feel less like you’re a kid drinking with the adults as well. 0% alcohol beers and wines need to be brought out of a dusty corner and put in pride of place – advertise those on the sandwich boards, and less of the ‘dry martinis for Dry January’.
Let’s have influencer Instagrams dedicated to no-alcohol recipes, and make it the next health craze. It’ll be fashionable in no time. Then you’ll be the cool, sexy one in the group sipping virgin daiquiris and treating your body like a temple (‘he does yoga too!’) rather than the sad designated driver because ‘you weren’t drinking anyway!’