Prescription, Over-the-Counter Pills Focus of Anti-Drug Campaign

Ads Target Parents, Teens About Dangers of Painkiller Abuse

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Partnership for a Drug-Free America launched a national educational ad campaign this morning to prevent abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Teens say there is easy access to prescription drugs through a medicine cabinet at home or at a friend's house.
Teens say there is easy access to prescription drugs through a medicine cabinet at home or at a friend's house.

The campaign comes on the heels of the Partnership's 18th annual survey that shows one in five teenagers -- or about 4.5 million -- have tried prescription painkillers such as Vicodin or OxyContin to get high.

Bilingual campaign
The campaign, which will be released in both English and Spanish, was done in conjunction with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and its member companies. It speaks directly to parents by alerting them that their own homes are easily accessible sources for teens to obtain and abuse these medications. The campaign will use TV, print and radio. A comprehensive online component created specifically for parents and teens on the abuse of cough medicine can be found at two Web sites (www.drugfree.org/Parent and www.dxmstories.com). The campaign also includes informational brochures to help parents get the conversation started with their teen.

The study found 62% of teens said prescription pain relievers are easy to find at home. And 52% say prescription pain relievers are "available everywhere."

"That's why we're putting a lot of our attending on educating parents," Partnership President-CEO Steve Pasierb Pasierb said. "They don't have a frame of reference in a lot of cases. This kind of behavior [prescription drug abuse] didn't exist when they were teens."
Eight ads like the one above were created for the anti-drug effort.
Eight ads like the one above were created for the anti-drug effort.

Pro bono work
All advertising for the campaign was created pro bono by advertising agencies WPP Group's Grey Worldwide, Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Lumina Films and Omnicom's Dieste Harmel & Partners, along with a number of production companies that donated their time and effort. All actors appear in campaign ads pro bono through the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The spending budget was not disclosed.

The ads all address top-line findings from the survey, which found that "pharming" -- abusing a host of chemical products and medicines intentionally to get high -- has taken root among America's teen population.

Factors driving the behavior
The study found two key factors are driving this behavior: Many teens have a misperception that intentionally abusing Rx and OTC medicines is not harmful, and teens say there is easy access to these drugs through a medicine cabinet at home or at a friend's house or via the Internet.

"From talking with consumers, we at Grey know this growing problem is not even on parents' radar," Mark Schwatka, exec VP-executive creative director, said in a statement. "This campaign has been designed to not only create awareness of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, but also to start a much-needed dialogue between parents and teens."
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