Lawmaker Asks Governor to Disavow Anti-DUI campaign


The Tennessean, Natalie Neysa Alund, July 14, 2015 - A Nashville state lawmaker Tuesday called on the governor to disavow a new anti-DUI campaign that has stirred controversy, as some have said it takes a sexist approach to encouraging young men not to drink and drive.

"I am calling on Governor Haslam to disavow this offensive and ill-conceived marketing campaign concocted by the Governor's Highway Safety Office," Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, wrote in a statement issued Tuesday morning. "It is not only offensive, but it is also inexcusable and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Frankly, I am furious."

Clemmons' stance came after an inquiry by The Tennessean on Monday — after coasters and fliers for the ad campaign started popping up at bars across the city this past weekend — into who was responsible for the campaign. It boasts slogans that refer to girls looking "hotter" when guys are under the influence and finding out "a marginally good-looking girl" later is "chatty," "clingy" or "your boss's daughter" as signs that maybe a man has had too much to drink.

The Governor's Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole responded in a statement Monday afternoon taking credit for the campaign, saying it was intentionally designed to reach the "young male demographic."

"We take feedback from the public seriously and want to thank all of those who have reached out to share their opinions with us," the statement said. "It was never the intent of our office to offend anyone. This new initiative was designed to reach the young male demographic, who are statistically more likely to drive under the influence."On Tuesday Clemmons responded, "A majority of our population has been disrespected, and our state has again been placed in a negative light. Our citizens, visitors and potential investors in our economy are left with the false impression that does not accurately reflect our state's respect for our mothers, sisters and daughters."

Another part of the campaign mimics graffiti found on the inside of a bathroom stall in one section of the highway safety office website, impaired.tntrafficsafety.org. In the section called "Legends of the Stall," behaviors such as binge drinking, promiscuity and cleaning up vomit with a cat are among the activities of featured graffiti characters who, at the end of their nights, choose not to drive home drunk.

As of 9:15 p.m. Monday night, the impaired.tntrafficsafety.org site was no longer available.

State officials have yet to respond to requests about how much the campaign cost, who designed it and whether the state removed the site.

The governor's office continues to refer comment to GHSO and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Check back for updates to Tennessean.com as they become available.