White House Drug Office Has Super Bowl Plans

ONDCP Known for Stern, Humorless Spots During Big Game Filled With Kooky Ads

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Get ready for a scolding about drug use when you're most likely to be in a mood for humor, surprise and a couple of stiff drinks.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has a history of running grim, discomforting commercials during the joyous Super Bowl, is planning a return to the big game, according to people familiar with the situation.

People familiar with the matter say the organization, which aims to create programs to stop illicit drug use, drug-related crime and violence, and drug manufacturing and trafficking, will run at least one commercial during the event. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Draft FCB is ONDCP's current agency. A Draft spokesman referred an inquiry to ONDCP. An ONDCP spokeswoman declined to comment.

History of jarring commercials
While the ONDCP's creative execution remains unknown at present, the group has a history of producing jarring commercials with severe messages, In 2002, for instance, ONDCP ads that ran in the Super Bowl told teenagers who bought drugs they were essentially giving money to the terrorists behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A 2003 ad linked teen pregnancy to the effect marijuana has on a person's judgment. A 2004 spot showed a girl's high-school day in reverse chronological order that begun with her getting high and passing out on a couch.

That's a far cry from the talkative chimpanzees and kooky celebrity cameos that are part of the typical Super Bowl lineup. At the same time, an edgy, serious ad is bound to stand apart from the bulk of promotions that support this gridiron classic and aim not to educate, but to get a belly laugh from a crowd bent on imbibing and consuming mass quantities of onion dip and buffalo wings.

Super Bowl XLII is set to air Feb. 3 on News Corp.'s Fox network from Arizona. Fox has sought anywhere from $2.7 million to $3 million for a 30-second spot in this year's contest, and had the bulk of its sales complete by late last year.

An event with tremendous reach
Interest in the game is taken not only as a sign of its ability to snare one of the biggest audiences on network TV, but also of the dearth of truly wide-reaching properties during an ongoing writers strike. Live sports events are also believed to foil ad-zapping by DVR users, who would much rather watch the Super Bowl as it occurs than hours or days later.

The assignment could also be an interesting one for Draft FCB. While Draft is better known for its expertise with direct-marketing, FCB -- the former Foote Cone & Belding -- has worked for years on creative campaigns for marketers including Kraft Foods and Yum Brands. Foote Cone won the ONDCP account in 2004. (WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather had previously serviced the business.) Interpublic merged Draft and FCB in mid-2006.
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