Date published





Drink Free Days ‘No more excuses’ 2020/2021 Campaign Summary

Date published




Campaign research and objectives

The Drink Free Days ‘No more excuses’ campaign iteration (NME) was first launched in the autumn of 2020 (October to early December), following research that summer revealing that many people drank more alcohol than usual during the first UK national COVID-19 lockdown, citing reasons such as having more time available and to help with stress or anxiety[1]. Those who said they drank more than usual also displayed worrying drinking habits, such as drinking on more days than they would usually and drinking earlier in the day.

In December 2020 we conducted further qualitative research with focus groups, which showed that the campaign’s ‘excuses’ concept resonated strongly with increasing and higher risk drinkers. On the back of this research, we made some small changes to the creative execution that had been used for the spring 2020 campaign. This included ensuring that ‘excuses’ used in the creative reflected people’s most recent experiences of home drinking.

The underlying call to action (“Take the DrinkCompare Quiz”) and message (“Take more drink-free days”) remained the same as in past campaigns.  But this new iteration used common excuses used to have a drink to encourage viewers to visit our website and complete the DrinkCompare Quiz.

Our campaign objective was to support behaviour change during the COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, we continued directing our audience to our online DrinkCompare Quiz, which showed them the impact of their drinking and how their drinking compared to the rest of the UK.

Campaign reach and engagement

Comparing 2019 to 2020 and 2021 campaign results

Prior to comparing these two iterations of our flagship Drink Free Days campaign, there were several differences that need to be considered:

  • We had launched a new and improved website in June 2020. This meant a new and more engaging user interface, as well as technical improvements such as webpage loading time that went from 8.46 seconds to 4.3 seconds (meaning users had to wait less time to load web content when visiting our site).
  • We had different budgets and timings. The 2020 NME campaign ran for a shorter period and with a lower budget due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Following the Covid-19 pandemic, although taking drink-free days remained at the core of our creative message, Drinkaware changed the creative approach used from 2019 because different and new drinking behaviours had emerged.

Given this, it is hard to compare the two campaign iterations. So as the 2020 campaign operated with a budget of 32% compared to the 2019 campaign any KPI in 2020 that delivered at or more than 32% of the 2019 campaign was deemed to be a success.  

‘No more excuses’ October – December 2020

The digital advertising campaign was live between the months of October and December 2020. Overall, the campaign advertising saw 235,000 clicks from people, of which 200,000 engaged the campaign’s landing page (that is they stayed on the page enough time not to be measured as a bounce) – this being 39% of what had been achieved in 2019 and so a positive increase of the 32% baseline. We believe the higher level of engagement comes from our new and improved website look and feel, which reduced overall bounce rates and delivered a better user experience.

More than 88,000 men and women assessed their drinking by completing the DrinkCompare Quiz – this was 36% of 2019 completions. The campaign reporting also reveals that 50% of these completions were evenly split between midlife users (35-65yrs) and younger audiences (less than 35y), of which 60% were women. This split is due to the addition of this younger target audience within our media targeting efforts, which shifted from 45-65yrs to 35-65yrs between the two campaigns. The decision to increasing our targeted age groups to younger audiences has been led by evidence in a Drinkaware survey of younger adults drinking more over lockdown either due to furlough or an increased pressure the pandemic brought onto young parents. [2]

Thanks to our targeted media approach, 60% were completions made by those drinking at increasing risk levels or above, as measured using a standard alcohol assessment tool (AUDIT-C).

The campaign efforts resulted in the audience pledging to take almost 28,000 drink-free days overall and generated over 2,000 Drinkaware newsletter sign ups.

‘No More Excuses’ January 2021 – March 2021

The January 2021 NME campaign burst remained within a similar budget and timeframe, compared to its DFD Spring iteration in 2020. Although this makes it seem easier to compare, it needs to be considered that the 2020 January burst had been our last campaign prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of almost three years’ worth of campaign testing, improvements and learnings, and remains, at least since September 2018, the most successful and efficient campaign Drinkaware delivered prior to the pandemic.

As we started discovering new findings to develop and improve on our new messaging and media mixes in a world still highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made important changes to the previous iteration of the NME campaign to boost campaign performance and impact:

  • We tested and amended creative copy lines of the ‘Excuses’ through online focus groups.
  • We created two additional Facebook executions to test whether the Facebook creative video would perform better by reducing the number of days of the week displayed in each video. We created ‘short week’ executions (Monday-Wednesday and Thursday-Sunday) and tested against a ‘long week’ execution (Monday-Sunday).
  • Radio and press adverts were added in our media plan to test and boost awareness.
  • We amended copy to make sure the user journey had consistent tone of voice and language from advertising to landing page and DFD planner. We also made this more relevant, following the frequent and rapid changes cause by COVID-19.

The press adverts were seen 6,803,000 times and radio advertising that was broadcast on most UK wide radio stations reached 33% of men and women aged 45-64 in social grades CI, C2 and D in the first two weeks it was live. On average, the advertising was listened to around nine times by each person reached.

The campaign burst was launched on 19th January and was live on Facebook for five weeks. We received 137,980 unique visits to our landing page. This was approximately 30% fewer than those achieved in January 2020. On the other hand, the changes applied significantly reduced the number of people ‘bouncing off’ the website by 19%, as well as increasing the time each person spent on the campaign landing page. Therefore, although fewer people were driven to the site, the level of the engagement was slightly better it was in January 2020.

As fewer people were driven to the site, we saw the same reduction in tool completions. However, content click through increased by 170% and the overall conversion rate by 13% compared to the previous year. Again, this shows how changes to content can increase significantly the levels of engagement on our website.

Similar to previous years, those completing the calculator were mostly (60%) increasing and high risk, as measured using a standard alcohol assessment tool (AUDIT-C), 92% were midlife users and 52.8% women.

Further insights reveal that the campaign improved the average number of drink-free days pledged per person, increasing from 2.71 to 2.76, along with the average unit reduction, which went from 2.98 to 3.92 units reduced per person.

For future potential iterations of the campaign, the recommendation is to learn what changes the pandemic have made to the digital advertising environment to understand which media mix would work best.

Email if you would like to be sent the campaign toolkit.



[2] Drinkaware, Drinking habits in lockdown, Part 1,,a%20drink%20since%20lockdown%20began.