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Australia's 'Stoner Sloth' Anti-Marijuana Campaign Is an Instant and Classic Fail Young people love ads meant to shame them

There's a long and not-very-proud tradition of anti-drug advertising that gets ridiculed for missing the mark with young audiences. Australia's New South Wales government just added a classic new entry to that hall of shame with #StonerSloth, a campaign designed to shame teens who get high—but who are finding the ads hilariously delightful instead.

In three short videos, marijuana has turned teens into giant sloths—and the metaphor is made literal, as the kids are actually depicted as giant hairy beasts with long, curved claws. Socially, they're utterly useless. All they can do is moan, since they're so high. And they can't take tests at school, make small talk at parties, or—most comically, if unintentionally so—even pass the salt at dinner.

"You're worse on weed," claims the tagline.



The campaign is so cartoony and weird that teens, rather than learning any lessons from it, are embracing it as one big joke. There are already parody videos, endless Twitter jokes—and even a "Pass the salt" sloth T-shirt for sale.

The New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet is standing by the campaign, at least for now. "The 'Stoner Sloth' public awareness campaign has been designed to encourage positive behaviors in young people before bad habits start, and motivate discontinued use of cannabis before they become dependent," a rep said in a statement. "The campaign is designed to appeal to, and be 'shareable' among, teenagers, who are some of the most vulnerable to cannabis use. We know that younger audiences respond more to campaigns highlighting the short-term consequences of their actions."

Well, it certainly is shareable, which is more than you can say for many such campaigns. Of course, that came at the price of becoming a laughingstock. Indeed, even Australia's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre has disowned the work.

Check out the best of the Twitter reaction below, including a couple of tweets from New South Wales premier Mike Baird. 

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