“Blazed,” a two-and-a-half-minute anti-drug PSA from New Zealand shop Clemenger BBDO, is one of the best ads of the year. It’s also one of the best anti-drug spots I’ve ever seen. As Americans, we are used to seeing anti-drug PSAs that force themselves on us as deterrents – a smoker talking after living with a tracheotomy, an incomplete text message leftover from a vicious accident. All of these pleas are important, but it is easy to say, “That’s sad,” and look the other way if you’ve never experienced any of those specifics.
“Blazed” isn’t confrontational like those commercials. A brief synopsis: three kids sit in a car, talking about what it’s like when their fathers are high and driving. It has a full narrative, some humor, great acting from kids, and almost doesn’t resonate as a PSA until the very end. In fact, it could even stand alone as a very short film, probably an extension of the influence from director Taika Waititi (an episode or two of Flight of the Concords and an Academy Award nomination for short “Two Cars, One Night”). But the subtlety and form makes it all the more powerful for the New Zealand Transport Agency. Definitely worth a watch.