WHITE HOUSE TO END DRUGS & TERROR ADS

Also Stops Study That Found Campaign Wasn't Working

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The White House anti-drug office will end its controversial drugs-and-terror advertising campaign and, in a reversal, shift more of its
'You killed me,' says the ghost of a little girl to a U.S. office worker in one of the White House anti-drug campaign's ads that are no longer running.
Related Stories:
WHITE HOUSE SUPER BOWL ADS ATTACK DRUGS
NORML Objects to Strong Anti-marijuana Emphasis
ANTI-DRUG PSAs MUST BE IDENTIFIED
FCC Rules Against Ad Council
WHITE HOUSE BRINGS BACK ADS LINKING DRUGS TO TERRORISM
Anti-Marijuana Ads From Ogilvy Target Youth and 'Influencers'
THE VIOLENT SIDE OF MARIJUANA USE
White House Drug Office Spots Aim For Public Conscience
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE DRUG OFFICE TANGLE
Advertising Versus Integrated Marketing: Which Makes More Sense?

$150 million budget toward children's media as it fights for Congress to extend the program another five years.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy will also cease a polarizing $8 million annual study that found the ads aimed at youth were not working and that pitted the drug office against the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Youth-oriented media
Now, the office will direct 60% of its buys toward youth-oriented media -- the same percentage it had previously directed at adults -- and will focus on halting drug use among children already using rather than aim to deter youth from starting drugs. The drugs-and-terror ads will end in May.

The drugs-and-terror campaign first broke five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, with two Super Bowl ads that cost the drug office more than $3 million to run. The spots centered on the idea that people who purchase drugs help fund terrorism. One ad showed a shopping list that includes an AK-47 rifle. "Where do terrorists get their money?" said the voice-over. "If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you." Later ads replaced "terrorism" with "terror," suggesting drug buys supported drug-cartel attacks on innocent civilians.

Ogilvy & Mather controversy
The ads were controversial not only because of their message, but because of the way they were produced. While almost all White House Office of National Drug Control Policy creative comes from the Partnership, the terrorism ads were produced outside the Partnership by the drug office's agency, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather.

The Partnership said the ads were off-strategy and refused to do any of the spots. Partnership Vice Chairman Allen Rosenshine, chairman-CEO of Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, ripped the campaign in a congressional hearing.

Spending cuts
The battle, coming to a drug office already wounded by complaints over Ogilvy's initial stewardship of the account, bolstered congressional critics who tried to cut spending dramatically. They eventually reduced it by about $25 million to about $150 million.

Legislation to continue the program is expected to soon be proposed by a bipartisan group of senators. Reps. Mark Souder, R-Ind., chairman of the Government Reform panel, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said last week that it would likely include language limiting the drug office's ability to go outside the Partnership for creative and also language that could require the drug office to rebid the contract won last year by Ogilvy.

"At a minimum I would expect that any future irregularity would be grounds for disqualification from participation," Rep. Souder said, adding that while he personally supports keeping Ogilvy, the senators preparing the bill are less certain.

In this article:
Most Popular