If you're from the UK, you might remember a bit of a hoo hah when they decided to relax 'licensing laws' - in plain English, the legal times you can buy and drink alcohol in public.
Some thought we would suddenly turn European and drink more slowly, while perhaps while sitting outside with a extra shot of joi de vivre.
Others thought Britain would become the 8th circle of hell, descending into a chaos of debauchery, violence and creating city centre no-go areas.
Britain's modern relationship with booze is soaked in binge-drinking, violence and the image of half naked dolts 'largin it' in Ibiza. So you can have some sympathy with those who thought that more drinking time would equal no violence.
But when the laws changed, hardly anything happened. Alcohol related crime barely moved an inch.
Because, time after time, in experiment after experiment (inluding one where half of people were given Vodka and half given tonic- but all thought they had stiff Vodka and tonics..and all displayed similar displays of drunken behaviour. Another got people of identical age and build to drink identical drinks and observed wildly different behaviour and levels of intoxication), the way that people behave when drunk is based on how society expects them to behave.
Now consider this, in 2003, a Home Office report stated that fighting while drunk was seen as 'an inevitable fact of life' by many.It's part of the culture for some cohorts in British society.
The problem of British behaviour when drunk, is less to do with British drinking, as British behaviour itself.
The root cause is the culture around drinking, not drinking.
Yet so much of the national conversation is around curbing alcohol consumption, rather than looking at the root causes of behaviour alcohol is linked with.
What can planner and brand folk in general learn from this? Just the usual.
Avoid bad research.
Avoid making the available facts fit your argument.
Don't get cause and effect in the wrong order.
Learn to discern between symptoms and fundamental issues.
Try and look for cultural and societal issues rather than artifical 'brand issues'.
This is heavilly borrowed from Mark Easton's excellent Britain etc. Which is the final thing we can, don't read books about marketing and planning. Read books about how culture, people and the endless quest to understand how and why people behave as they do.