Parents, Young People and Alcohol ‘Cogs’

Under 18. No Alcohol. The Safest Choice.

The Parents, Young People and Alcohol ‘Cogs’ campaign was a joint initiative of the Drug and Alcohol Office (now Mental Health Commission), the former McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and Telethon Kids Institute. The campaign was part-funded by Healthway.

The ‘Cogs’ campaign was the first phase of the MHC’s state-wide education and persuasion prevention strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm among young people in Western Australia.

The campaign was developed to give parents and young people important information to make informed choices about delaying initiation to alcohol use.  The ‘Cogs’ campaign reflected the scientific literature that suggests a young person’s brain continues to develop until their early 20s, and alcohol use during that critical time can affect the developing brain.

The key message was based on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) guideline that for children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Cogs first launched in November 2012 and was in market until March 2014.

Target groups


Parents of young people 12 to 17 years-of-age.


Young people 12 to 17 years-of-age.

Key message

Under 18. No Alcohol. The safest choice.

Campaign objectives

  • Increase parental preparedness and acceptance of responsibility to monitor, supervise and prevent young peoples’ exposure to alcohol consumption and related harm.
  • Increase awareness of the NHMRC guidelines that for children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
  • Decrease the number of parents who provide alcohol to young people (under 18 years-of-age).
  • Decrease misconceptions regarding factors that protect and prevent young people drinking in a harmful way.
  • Increase support for evidence-based measures that can be taken to reduce alcohol-related harm.


An independent social research agency was engaged to conduct a mid-campaign evaluation. This evaluation was conducted in May 2013 and comprised a total of 635 respondents across WA.

A summary of the mid campaign evaluation results are below:

  • Almost half (46%) of parents recognised the campaign when prompted.
  • Amongst parents who recognised the TV ad, almost nine in 10 (86%) correctly described the key campaign message, being ‘alcohol damages the developing brain’ and ‘no alcohol for under 18s is the safest option’.
  • Knowledge of the NHMRC guidelines increased among both parents and young people following launch of the campaign. Parents increased from 68% in 2012 to 82% in 2013, and young people increased from 58% in 2012 to 77% in 2013.
  • Two thirds (67%) of parents exposed to the campaign claimed to have taken action as a result of the campaign. Of those, half (55%) reported speaking to their child about alcohol and almost one in five (19%) tried to prevent their child from drinking any alcohol.
  • Parents were also significantly less likely to think it is appropriate to provide alcohol to their child under 18 (28%) after seeing the campaign, compared to pre-campaign (37%). The greatest decrease was observed among parents of 15 to 17 year olds (46% in 2012 to 34% in 2013).

For more findings from the mid-year evaluation, click here.


Campaign Video
30 second Cogs Television Commercial

15 second Cogs Television Commercial

Campaign Audio
Young People Female Radio ad

Young People Male Radio ad

Expert Radio Ad - Fiona Wood, Burns Specialist

Related Information

Parents & Young People

Children and young people are vulnerable to alcohol and in particular, alcohol can have a significant impact on the developing body and brain.

What Parents Need to Know

The NHMRC alcohol guideline for young people gives a sound and important reason for parents and care givers not to give alcohol young people if they are under 18 years of age.


National Health and Medical Research Council (2009). Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from

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