LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Anti-drug ads can work

Advertising Age is right in its editorial "Partnership is worth rescuing" (Viewpoint, AA, May 27): The anti-drug campaign was envisioned as a public-private partnership, where advertising experts created messages and the government paid to run them. The effort should be restored to that vision.

The program needs to get back on track. When experts with a 10-year track record of creating anti-drug ads ran the creative process, the campaign worked; drug use was going down. John Walters [director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy] and Congress can make it work again.

Congress should reauthorize the campaign's funding with a mandate to devote fully $190 million per year to purchase hard-hitting, consistent ads aimed at parents and kids, while relying on pro bono advertising expertise. Media outlets should also continue to provide one dollar in free exposure for every federal dollar spent on media buys.

Connecticut has seen recent decreases in youth use of "gateway drugs" such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and inhalants. We thankfully attribute part of that progress to the consistent pro bono efforts of our media partners. Let's remember: It's parents and our kids who stand to lose if Congress ends the campaign or allows it to be even further compromised by a federal bureaucracy.

Susan K. Patrick

President

Governor's Prevention Partnership

Hartford, Conn.

With Partnership or not, anti-drug ads worth it

I applaud Ad Age's editorial "Partnership is worth rescuing" (Viewpoint, AA, May 27) urging Congress to continue its support for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. As it highlighted, and as Ad Age readers well know, advertising is unparalleled in its potential for swaying teens' attitudes about drugs.

The original vision for the campaign was elegantly simple: Let advertising experts create targeted messages and run them regularly at government expense. When the formula was followed, the campaign worked.

Whether or not the Partnership for a Drug-Free America remains engaged in developing messages for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the campaign should continue. And it should return to the formula of focused, hard-hitting messages airing consistently. If it doesn't, it's our kids and parents who ultimately lose.

Erin Clausen

Partnership for a Drug-Free California

Mountain View, Calif.

Anti-drug campaign great bargain for U.S.

As someone who has been in advertising for 25 years, I think this is pretty simple. What costs all advertisers millions to produce is free to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The country's top agencies clamor to be selected to do the work, offering the greatest bargain of our time. Last time I looked, the government has been crying about budget shortfalls causing cutbacks and programs having to be eliminated.

The saying goes (in most cases), "you get what you pay for." Except in this case. In this case, the ONDCP is getting more than if it paid for it. Some of the finest, on-target advertising has been produced for years by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and its associated agencies. Year after year, the Partnership's messages have been proven effective ... minus the last two years. Can we please get back to what got us here? And can we please make sure the funding continues to ensure effective ad placement?

Ira Bass

Greensboro, N.C.

Anti-drug ads helped curb youth drug use

Advertising works! It does here in South Florida, where anti-drug messages were cited by more than 40% of our youth in Miami for having a "great or very great influence" on their decision to not use drugs. (It was pro bono work for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.) Why? Sixty-one percent of our middle school and high school aged youth report seeing anti-drug spots on TV "at least daily or more than once a day."

According to the Partnership, the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market has led the nation for a decade in the volume of spots and valuable airtime dedicated to anti-drug creative. Positive media has played a major part in Miami-Dade youth reducing levels of alcohol, tobacco and drug use by approximately a third since 1995, exceeding most major metropolitan communities in that trend nationwide. For that, we are exceedingly grateful to the leadership and cooperation exhibited by our broadcast media partners, as they continue to join us in our battle against substance abuse.

We know advertising works in helping to reduce drug abuse. We implore the federal government not to "throw the baby out with the bath water" on the anti-drug campaign, and make the sufficient improvements and adjustments necessary to continue to aid the substance abuse battles fought by service providers on the ground.

Bernie Diaz

Director of Communications

Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community

Coral Gables, Fla.

Corrections

* In "In a crunch: Nestle, rivals extend lines" (May 27, P. 3), J. Walter Thompson's New York office was incorrectly identified as the agency for Nestle's new Signatures platform and its Nestle Treasures and Turtles brands. JWT, Chicago, handles the business.

* In "Pizza Hut succeeds with spots for `Insider' (even has a jingle)" (May 27, P. 49), the KFC theme was wrongly given as "It's Not Fast Food. It's KFC." It is "There's Fast Food. Then There's KFC."

* In "Long run-up hits wall; dip at 6.9%" (Special Report: Marketing Services, May 20, P. S-2), percentage declines in U.S. interactive revenues for three agencies were actually percentage gains in revenue. The agencies and the correct revenue change percentages are: Ryan Partnership, Westport, Conn., up 144.1%; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, up 204.3%; and Marketing Drive Worldwide, Norwalk, Conn., up 607.2%.

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