Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Advertising failure

Quick. Walk to your nearest news stand before USA Today sells out. You've GOT to see this.
Page A4 and A5, USA Today (8/29/06)
Click for a larger image

Today, USA Today ran a story entitled, "Anti-drug advertising campaign a failure, GAO report says," which exposes the fact that the ad campaign actually INCREASES the chances of teen drug use. On the opposing page, they ran one of the very same ads. How apropos!

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is having a bad month. First, a senate subcommittee recommended cutting their paychecks, citing "lethargy" and "unresponsiveness" resulting in an "unnecessary waste of time and energy." Then, on Friday, the Government Accountabilty Office released a report on the ONDCP's anti-drug propaganda campaign, which finds “no evidence of a positive outcome” and “significant unfavorable effects,” including that “greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana.” (And this is not to mention the "biting" anti-drug ad parody featuring footage from "Snakes on a Plane," which hit YouTube last week.)

And today, USA Today poured salt on the wound.

The ONDCP spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money - that's YOUR money - to place this full page ad in USA Today... only to have the nearby article rip its credibility to shreds. Of course, this begs the question: How could USA Today justify taking hundreds of thousands taxpayer dollars to run an ad that they know will increase teen drug use?

Perhaps the folks in USA Today's advertising department saw a similar jab at the ONDCP that appeared in a popular music magazine called "Notes on the Scene" this summer. Now, I wonder who made that mock ad...

Action: Click here to help ensure that the government stops wasting YOUR MONEY on these counterproductive ads.

5 comments:

800 pound gorilla said...

The irony is that parental involvement - assuming it is of a positive variety - does reduce the chances of abusive drug addictions. Unfortunately, parents acting as abusive police and micromanaging activities and even filling up their lives with too many supervised programs to keep them away from "dangerous drugs" drives kids away from interaction with parents. I should know; my parents tried that and drove my two younger brothers to their early graves.

And BTW, the dangerous drugs mythology provides a great distraction from real drug education - with more teens being highly medicated for further behavior modification. If drugs are the magic bullet for parents they must be great for kids! Successive generations of kids follow their parents into lives of workaholism, conformity to authority, and multiple drug dependencies. Is it any wonder why affordable health care is such a problem? Is it any wonder that pharmaceuticals are providing upwards of half the private funding for "anti drug education" organizations that promote the dangerous drugs mythology? Follow the money!

Laura said...

The fact is that a media outlet's advertising department is far removed from the editorial department. The layout editors probably heartily agreed with the article and placed it next to the ad to make a point. (This happens sometimes. It's the way for the editors to "stick it to management," so to speak.)

Jason said...

If I remember right, there's a federal law requiring that media outlets to match ONDCP advertising dollar-for-dollar with free space. That make the cost of this ad only $50K - which is uh, still more than I made last year.

A few links:
http://www.mediacampaign.org/publications/integr_plan/appen-g5.html
http://www.mediaaccess.org/filings/adcouncilfinal.pdf#search=%22federal%20advertising%20media%20outlets%20rate%20sheet%22
http://www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=94

Tom Angell said...

Jason, you're right about the "one-for-one matching" deal for the ads. However, the ONDCP still had to "spend over $100,000 in taxpaer money" in order to land this ad (even if they got a free one later on).

beervolcano said...

I'm sorry for being so anal, but it doesn't beg the question. It may prompt the question or raise the question, but question begging is something else.

How could USA Today justify taking hundreds of thousands taxpayer dollars to run an ad that they know will increase teen drug use?

If someone offered me $100k and more teens got high because of it, I'd be all for it.