'Kaputnik' campaign takes aim at underage drinking

Posted at: 09/03/2014 4:15 PM
Updated at: 09/03/2014 5:41 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- You might have seen a "Kaputnik" billboard driving around town. If you're thinking, "What is Kaputnik?" you're not alone.

"I don't know if I understand it," said Ana Jayme.

"Kaputnik? I don't know," said Chantele Maestas.

"It sounds like a teddy bear," added Archie Cooke.

Kaputnik is actually the name of a character - a walking bottle of alcohol. It's part of a campaign from the New Mexico Department of Transportation aimed at underage drinking.

"You go Kaputnik, you go down," said Richard Kuhn, with RK Venture, the company behind the campaign.

"The whole idea behind Kaputnik is that he is a bad influence," added Kuhn.

In New Mexico, a little more than 28% of people aged 12-20 drank alcohol in the past month. So how do you address the issue without being boring? That's where it gets tough. "Teens, if you talk to them, or down to them, or tell them what to do…invariably they just might turn around and go the other direction," said Kuhn.

So that's why Kuhn's team said they knew they had to add humor, a character and name like Kaputnik to get their attention. You'll see it on billboards, but Kaputnik is also on the radio, TV and all over social media.

While some people think the campaign is catchy, they say they're skeptical. "I don't think it works. I don't think anything works," said Archie Cooke.

But Kuhn and his team said whatever your take is, the whole point is to get people talking. "What we're trying to do is to inform people about - is to be responsible - and to understand the consequences of their actions," said Kuhn.