'A nightmare': Expert slams Telstra's 'drunk dial an ex' Christmas campaign

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Telstra’s Christmas campaign offering customers ‘the option to drunk dial their exes’ for free has been slammed by a dating expert as ‘tacky’ and potentially damaging.

The major telco announced the promotion was returning for the fourth year running on Wednesday via a press release with the subject line, “Drunk dial your ex for free this Christmas”.

In the release, the brand revealed it was ‘gifting’ all Australians free mobile calls from Telstra pay phones around the country, in addition to Telstra Air Wi-Fi at selected access points from December 24 to January 1.

Telstra is offering Aussies the option to 'drunk dial their ex' for free this Christmas. Photo: Getty Images.

According to Renee Brown, matchmaker and founder of Corporate Cupid, drunk calling an ex-partner is ‘always a nightmare’.

“You go through the breakup period and you’re trying to stay cool and be the better person and then you have that moment where alcohol gets the better of you and if you’ve got the opportunity to let loose on your ex in a phone call then all hell breaks loose,” she says in an exclusive chat with Yahoo Lifestyle.

Renee is concerned that encouraging people to make contact with their former partners while intoxicated could be harmful.

“It’s all negative, there’s nothing positive that can come of [drunk dialling an ex],” she explains.

“Alcohol heightens our sense of insecurity in our emotional state and because our conscious senses are down and we’re fuelled by our alcohol-driven emotions, the things we say are usually regrettable.”

Renee reveals she ‘constantly educates’ her clients to avoid these type of phone calls as they can return them to a difficult emotional state that can significantly set back their emotional recovery.

A drunk dial can be ‘a negative experience’ for not only the person making the call but also the ex on the other end, she points out.

An expert has slammed Telstra's 'drunk dial an ex' Christmas campaign. Photo: Telstra.

“Receiving that phone call can be just as damaging as making the call. If somebody has a new partner then receives that call from their ex and it opens up old wounds and that could cause problems in the present relationship as well,” she says.

The ‘drunk dialling an ex’ message could also be damaging to Telstra as well, with Renee calling it ‘tacky’ and a ‘silly’ decision.

“If the campaign is to specifically promote the ‘drunk calling of an ex’ then I’m not supportive of that and I think that tarnishes the brand for sure,” she says.

“But if it’s to connect with people on a genuine level... then anything positive like that I love,” she adds.

Telstra speaks out

A Telstra spokesperson later told Yahoo Lifestyle that the ‘drunk dialling an ex’ message ‘was not in keeping with the intent of the campaign’.

“In trying to appeal to a specific audience [Telstra’s PR agency] has used poor judgement and missed the mark with the subject of their pitch,” the spokesperson said.

“Our story is all about connecting Australians with a specific focus on the vulnerable and those that often don’t have the choice to make a simple phone call to reconnect with family and loved ones,” they added.

The brand launched the campaign in partnership with the Salvation Army in Melbourne today with the aim of tackling feelings of social isolation in vulnerable members of the community.

Tips to avoid drunk dialling

Renee’s advice is to avoid making the call in the first place and suggests asking a friend or family member to look after their phones on a night out to remove the temptation altogether.

If you do slip up and drunk dial an ex, Renee says honesty is always the best policy.

“Just be true with your current scenario. You’re still on a journey and your emotions got the better of you, so say sorry and ask if you can just move on,” she advises.

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