OK to Ask

Building on two years of activity driving awareness of drunken sexual harassment via the Wouldn’t Shouldn’t campaign, in September 2017 Drinkaware launched a campaign to encourage 18–24 year olds on nights out to step in and support others on the receiving end of drunken sexual harassment.

The main campaign message, ‘If you see someone being harassed on a night out, it’s ok to ask if they are ok’ was developed to run across various communications channels (cinema, digital TV, digital display, social media, outdoor advertising) and is supported by advice on how to take action in the situation.

The main goals are to:

• Encourage young people to look out for each other and give them confidence to step in and support others on the receiving end of harassment
• Provide support to people when they experience drunken sexual harassment
• Foster a more positive social atmosphere in the night time economy where drunken sexual harassment isn’t tolerated 

How we developed it

• Consulted with experts – brought together a range of stakeholders including
police and representatives of Hollaback and the Susie Lamplugh Trust
• Drew on evidence – appraised bystander approaches recommended by PHE1 adopting most relevant advice
• Incorporated expert advice – worked with the Good Night Out campaign to develop advice on how to step in safely
• Tested with the target audience – focus groups with males and females aged 18–24 who participate in drunken nights out

What we achieved — North West advertising campaign2

• 54% of the target audience recalled the campaign
• 63% thought it would make a diference to attitudes towards drunken sexual harassment
• 82% felt the campaign made them want to intervene and help someone
• 74% thought the campaign provided enough information
• 30% of campaign recognisers said they had intervened after witnessing an incident
(against only 17% of those who hadn’t seen the campaign)

Online advert:

What we achieved — national PR campaign

• Reached 76 million people including a broadcast exclusive on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat
and coverage on front page of the Metro
• Widespread organic support across social media from stakeholders and the target audience


1 Fenton et al (2016) A review of evidence for bystander intervention to prevent sexual and domestic violence in universities. London: Public Health England.
Available online:http://www2.uwe.ac.uk/faculties/BBS/BUS/law/Law%20docs/bystander/Publications/PHE_PublishedLitReviewApr2016.pdf
2 The 2017 survey was conducted online between 30th October and 15th November 2017. The sample was drawn from YouGov’s online research panel.
415 18–24s in the North West (campaign region), and 416 in the Midlands (control region), were interviewed.

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