WHITE HOUSE RECRUITING ZENITH FOR ANTI-DRUG ADS: DEFENSE DEPT. MEDIA-BUYING CONTRACT ALLOWS BUYS FOR TEST

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The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is enlisting the U.S. Defense Department to get its anti-drug advertising on the air in 12 test cities early next year.

To avoid the long government-contracting procedures required to hire a media buyer, the drug-policy office will use Zenith Media, New York, one of the military's buyers, for its initial $12 million to $15 million placement of time and space.

CONTRACT ALLOWS DEAL

Zenith handles media buys for the Defense Department's joint-recruiting efforts. Because the joint-recruiting office once handled some ads for the Coast Guard, its contract with Zenith was written to let other government agencies also occasionally buy ads. The office will move to bid out its permanent assignment.

Alan Levitt, chief marketing officer of the drug-policy office, said Creative Media, New York, had been engaged as well and already had had some initial discussions with national media companies about purchases following the four-month test.

The four-month test, if it wins approval from key congressional committees this week, now appears likely to begin in January.

Congressional aides said last week the markets include Atlanta; Baltimore; Boise, Idaho; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Houston; Milwaukee; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; Sioux City, Iowa; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington. Another 12 cities will be monitored for comparison purposes.

FOUR IMPRESSIONS A WEEK

The drug-policy office's aim is to get four impressions a week in the target audiences of both children ages 9 to 17 and their parents. The bulk of the advertising will be aimed at so-called "entry" drugs, including marijuana, but the actual mix will change according to local-market needs.

The drug-control office said it expects the media mix will include outdoor advertising, newspapers, radio and TV. Magazines initially will not be used.

Officials of the drug-control office said it is becoming apparent that, with national advertising for the anti-drug program unlikely to begin before late May at the earliest, some of the $178 million allocated to be spent by Sept. 30 -- the end of the government's fiscal year -- will be put to time and space for later in the year and perhaps even into 1999.

Some of the money also will be used for related support and tracking awareness of the ads.

CREATIVE FROM PARTNERSHIP

Initial creative for the advertising is to come from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The drug-policy office hopes media companies will give free time and space to the program, as much as $356 million worth including corporate contributions to

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