Will The Dryathlon Dry Up?

I said it last year and I’ll say it again. I really wish people would stop coining new words for charity campaigns. It is already ceasing to have an impact and is detracting from the important work that is being done.

Last year, I bemoaned the Stoptober campaign, launched by the UK Government as a way of getting people to cut down on smoking. But still people carry on, and now Cancer Research has created a month where people don’t drink in order to raise money. They have called it the Dryathlon.

It is easy to see why this linguistic trick has become fashionable. Movember, the Daddy of the neologistically-inspired charity fundraiser, goes from strength to strength. Movember has undoubtedly become part of the lexicon. So people see it, see that it raises money to fight prostate cancer, and decide they want a piece of it.

But you can’t keep flogging the same idea and expect it to deliver. And the reason why Movember works, while Stoptoper and Dryathlon don’t, is that it is asking people to do something ludicrous. Growing a moustache is an inconsequential and fun thing to do. Coining a word to capture that idiocy is just part of the fun.

But giving up smoking and drinking are not fun, they are important, life-saving activities, and giving them a silly name and expecting people just to tag along, misses why Movember is a success. The word has be associated with something equally as daft for the perfect union.

I think it is a shame. I fear the idea of Dryathlon won’t really help the charity behind it, and that is a pity. You can judge for yourself how successful it has been. Dryathlon has not worked its way into popular culture the way that Movember has, awareness of it is at a much lower scale than its hirsute brother. It is simply not getting the coverage.

It’s time to find another way to raise money.

Stoptober? No, Just Stop!

The UK Government’s upcoming campaign to try and help people give up smoking is a noble effort. Less noble is the linguistic approach they have taken to try and sell their campaign. They want you to stop smoking for 28 days in October. So welcome to Stoptober.

I fear we could be on a slippery slope here. Just because Movember is now well established in the lexicon and the calendar as the month in which men sprout facial hair and collect money for cancer charities, it doesn’t mean that we can all now jump on the bandwagon, grab a month and attempt to rename it as a way of promoting our own campaign. Stoptober feels a little like this to me.

And where will it end? Let’s run a series of self-help sessions to lift people’s morale – welcome to Peptember. What if people need it after a period where they have found life really dull – good old Boregust. And how about Christmas conviviality, and a month leading up to it which is full of drinking. Well, I’ll leave you to your own December conclusions.

Good luck to the Department of Health, and to all those people who want to give up smoking and who manage to achieve it because of this campaign. But world at large, please don’t continue to adopt months, change their names, and assume you will get instant success. Or it’s Banuary for all of you.