White House needs new tack in teen drug fight

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The anti-drug ads don't work.

That was the prevailing feeling among the marketing community. Of the respondents to Advertising Age's poll, 62% said the White House's anti-drug campaigns were ineffective and did not deserve more funding.

Comments, however, seemed to indicate that some "no" votes came from people who didn't like the creative approach-devised by Partnership for a Drug-Free America-but still felt that the campaign should be maintained, perhaps just with a new focus.

"The 'stop smoking' ads did not work and the drug office's anti-drug ads do not either," wrote Luis Portiansky, director marketing, MWE, New York. "Put that money into effective youth and teen programs that are more direct and relevant."

Jackie Essary, a media buyer at Haworth Marketing & Media, derided the ads: "The ads are very silly and act more as a comic relief than to curb drug use. I actually think the ads make kids aware of drugs that they might not have been exposed to and I think they pique their curiosity."

"Drug advertising would be more effective if it advocated legalization with torture and capital punishment to those who sell the crud to minors," said Tom Messner, partner at Euro RSCG. (The drug office says the campaign is showing measurable results.)

Others said some changes need to be made.

"Can we rephrase the question? No, it doesn't work, and yes, it deserves more funding. But if ever a campaign cried out for a smart, targeted, non-broadcast approach-instead of dumb messages dropped with 'media weight'-this is it," wrote Dana Yarak of Arc WorldWide.
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