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By Published on .

As the U.S. Congress nears final approval of funding to pay the media for running anti-drug ads, ad industry leaders are telling the government they want to continue providing creative through existing pro bono programs.

"I think the industry is being selfless," said O. Burtch Drake, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies last week in detailing his talks with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. During talks, he argued against the hiring of a single ad agency to do creative for the government's campaign.

While he can foresee a traditional relationship-and profit-for media planning and buying, Mr. Drake wants the U.S. to work through the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Advertising Council to utilize the creative resources of a number of agencies.


The only change would be that under the new government setup, ad agencies that donated production costs for Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Ad Council efforts would get their costs paid by the government.

"The partnership has a great track record, and they have access to the best creative talent in the country. The government gets its most valuable resource free of charge," Mr. Drake said.

The request comes as the White House drug policy office approaches the final stages of planning for what could be a $220 million to $380 million annual anti-drug campaign, slated to run for five years.

Under the program, the government will pay $110 million to $195 million a year for ads and require that media match the spending in donated time or space reaching young people or their parents.

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who last week was named a co-chairman of the partnership with William Bennett, former U.S. drug czar, said he was willing to make personal calls to media executives to request donated time and space.


The U.S. Senate already has approved $110 million for the program, and the House of Representatives this week is expected to OK $195 million, with restrictions. The drug policy office is expected to push in conference committee for $195 million in funding without restrictions.

The drug policy office this week is to award a contract to an ad agency to evaluate current anti-drug ads, their effectiveness and who they reach-and propose a program for new ads reaching specific targets.

The agency is to recommend a program that would reach youths, a way to measure its effect and then to help evaluate an agency to develop the campaign.

Allen Rosenshine, BBDO Worldwide chairman-CEO and co-chairman of the partnership's creative review committee, said there is no reason to hire an agency for creative.

"If you make this an agency campaign, you will get the best from one agency-as opposed to the best from agencies all over the country," said Mr. Rosenshine. "If you get the best work and the best talent, it is self-defeating to switch."


The current work is seen as a way to help improve society, he also said.

"It's an emotional commitment that everybody feels, that everybody wants to work on," said Mr. Rosenshine. "People see drugs as a threat to them personally. People are champing at the bit to do the work and our presentations are

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