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Each year, more than 10,000 young people, ages 16 to 25, die as a result of alcohol use. It is a tragic problem.

As early as grade school, kids feel pressure to drink. Sometimes, the courage to say “no” can come from an older kid. In Courageous Persuaders, high school students create television commercials targeted at middle school students to warn them about the dangers of alcohol use. Students compete for scholarship money and trophies. The grand prize-winning commercial actually airs on TV as a public service announcement. Participants gain valuable experience, are honored in a Hollywood-style awards banquet and, most importantly, have an opportunity to save lives.

In 2000 John Barczyk, an advertising executive at McCann-Erickson, the world’s largest multinational advertising agency system, met with Troy, Michigan, District Judge Michael Martone, a nationally recognized advocate in the fight against underage drinking. John had an idea to help reduce the unbelievable statistics of underage drinking. The meeting confirmed a mutual concern and a dedication to make a difference. Together, they founded Courageous Persuaders.

In 2007, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) officially announced its partnership with Courageous Persuaders. The DADA is the primary sponsor and administrator of the Courageous Persuaders program, which is facilitated through the DADA Education Foundation.

In 2008, Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS) officially announced the SOS’s partnership with Courageous Persuaders. Top entries in the innovative Courageous Persuaders anti-drinking campaign aimed at teens will win airtime in SOS offices across Michigan. We’ve since expanded our messages, so students can submit a video on the dangers of underage drinking or the dangers of texting while driving.

Create a TV commercial targeted at middle school students to warn them about the dangers of underage drinking or texting while driving, students can enter separate videos in both categories. Win scholarship money and trophies, have fun, and gain valuable experience. The grand prize-winning commercial will be broadcast on TV and the team that created it will work with Pluto Post and the DADA Education Foundation to upgrade their spot for air.

Open to all high school students in grades 9-12 – not only those taking video production. Winners will be selected based on idea. And you all have great ideas.

The Courageous Persuaders entry deadline is February 9, 2017. Your entry must either be submitted online or postmarked by this date. Winners will be announced at the Awards Celebration in May 2017. Continue to visit for information about the 2017 competition and for further updates!

Official Rules & How To Enter

High school students nationally can participate; emphasis is placed on concept and the message, not on production values. Students are encouraged to use whatever video equipment is available to them. Teachers and principals, school audio/video departments, parent and community leaders are urged to share their equipment and lend local support by promoting the program as a very unique scholarship competition that is fun to participate in and has a powerful impact on a serious problem.

View official rules or enter here.

Program Objectives

The primary objective is to raise awareness and change attitudes about the dangers of underage drinking among high school students. A secondary objective is to expose middle school students to positive role models − high school students taking a stand on this deadly issue.

Questionnaires administered to middle school students gauge the persuasiveness of the commercials produced by high schoolers. Ratings on these questionnaires determine the winners.

About DADA

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) was founded in 1907 by 17 local dealers, and has grown to more than 250 member dealers who donate their time and resources to a host of community activities. Currently, the DADA members collectively employ more than 16,500 people.

Many members participate in the NAIAS, LLC which is responsible for the production of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The most significant charitable venture of the DADA is the annual NAIAS Charity Preview, which has raised more than $106 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan since 1976.

Courageous Persuaders is administrated by the DADA Educational Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and relies on the generous support of corporate and foundation partners to continue this important and influential program. If you would like to sponsor or make a donation and help us to lead the fight against underage drinking and texting while driving, you can contact Sandy Herp at 248.283.5138 or

National And International Recognition

Courageous Persuaders® has been recognized by several major international professional organizations, garnering a Gold Medal at the New York Festivals, a Silver Medal at the AME (Advertising Marketing Effectiveness) Awards and two Outstanding Creativity Awards at the Mobius competition in Los Angeles. Various other awards recognized the high schools involved, the students, one of the sponsors (The Adcraft Club of Detroit), Detroit Photographer Jim Haefner, Yessian Music, McCann Erickson Detroit and Judge Michael Martone, as well as the program itself.