Alcohol and Health 'What You Can’t See'

Alcohol. It’s what you can’t see that can cause the most damage.

The Alcohol and Health ‘What You Can’t See’ campaign was developed by the Drug and Alcohol Office (now Mental Health Commission), in partnership with the former McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth.

The ‘What You Can’t See’ campaign aimed to build on the successful Alcohol and Cancer campaigns that ran between 2010 and 2012, which first introduced the message that alcohol can cause cancer. 

‘What You Can’t See’ explains that alcohol causes a range of health harms in both the long-term, including cancer, liver disease, heart disease and stroke.  The campaign encourages people to reduce their risk by drinking no more than standard drinks on any day, consistent with the NHMRC guideline for reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime.

‘What You Can’t See’ launched July 2014 and was in market until October 2016.

Target group

Adults aged 25 to 54 years.

Key message

To reduce your risk of alcohol-caused disease, have no more than two standard drinks on any day.

Campaign objectives

  • Increase awareness of the NHMRC guideline that to reduce the risk of alcohol-related disease, health experts recommend no more than two standard drinks on any day;
  • Increase awareness and concern of the link between alcohol and a range of long-term harms; and
  • Increase intent to follow the NHMRC guideline.


An independent social research agency was engaged to conduct a mid-campaign evaluation following its first year in market conducted in August 2014. The post campaign evaluation was conducted in February 2016. Both evaluations comprised approximately 400 respondents across WA.A summary of the campaign evaluation results are below:

  • Overall, two-thirds (63%) of the target audience recalled seeing the campaign when prompted in 2016, up from just over half (53%) in 2014.
  • In 2016, almost nine in 10 (88%) correctly or partially correctly recalled the key message take out.
  • Awareness that two standard drinks was the correct limit to reduce long-term harm was higher in 2016 (35%) than in 2014 (32%).
  • There was a slight but significant increase in the proportion of 25-54 year old’s who think they drink more than they should (30% in 2016, compared with 24% in 2014).
  • At the mid-campaign evaluation (2014), two in five (40%) of those who saw the campaign reported taking some action to reduce their drinking, with one in four (24%) claiming to have limited their drinking to two standard drinks on any day.
  • Purported action taken dropped slightly in 2016, with almost two in five (38%) 25-54 year old’s aware of the campaign claiming to have taken some form of action as a result of seeing the campaign. One in four (23%) claimed to have decided to limit the amount of alcohol they consume to no more than two standard drinks on any day.

For more findings from the evaluation, click here.


Campaign Video
30 Second 'What you can't see' Television Commercial

Campaign Audio
30 second radio - What you can't see

30 second radio - Cancer

30 second radio - Stroke

30 second radio - Liver disease

Related Information

Alcohol & Your Health

Harmful drinking can occur in the short-term and long-term. NHMRC released guidelines that give advice on minimising health consequences of drinking alcohol.

Alcohol and Your Long-Term Health

Regular and ongoing drinking can cause long term damage to organs

Alcohol and Cancer

The Alcohol and Cancer campaign aims to increase personal relevance of links between alcohol and cancer and focusses on the long-term risks of harmful drinking.

What is a Standard Drink?

It is important to keep track of how much alcohol you drink. A standard drink measures the amount of pure alcohol in a drink not the amount of liquid.


National Health and Medical Research Council 2009, Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, Commonwealth of Australia 2009.

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