Drug Czar Under Fire




Black Caucus, House Panel Air Complaints
WASHINGTON, D.C.–White House drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey received a barrage of questions last week from the Congressional Black Caucus, which complained about the lack of anti-drug campaign money targeting African-Americans. The group is also concerned that the lead agency on the business–Ogilvy & Mather–is not minority owned.
In a letter, the caucus expressed “alarm” over the fact that the Office of National Drug Control Policy will spend $10.9 million targeting Hispanic audiences this year, but will put only $3.2 million toward blacks. The letter went on to ask, “What percentage [of the budget is] directed toward ethnically owned-and-operated media and advertising companies as the primary, not secondary, contractor?”
In reply, McCaffrey reiterated that $33 million in paid and donated media had been targeted at minority audiences.
McCaffrey also appeared before a House appropriations subcommittee last week to defend his request for another $185 million to be spent on anti-drug ads. “We don’t want to go ahead with spending unless we know the kind of effect we have had,” said Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., chairman of the subcommittee.
McCaffrey said continuing the campaign is the key to helping change youth attitudes. Drug use among young people has leveled off, but still remains high, he said.
One ONDCP source said the report was delayed because of a General Accounting Office audit.
The ONDCP’s spending request would likely be granted, Kolbe said.
Shona Seifert, executive group director at Ogilvy & Mather, said she hoped the two controversies would not interrupt the campaign.
“It is not typical to stop an advertising campaign in the middle to evaluate results This could cost kids lives. It’s not like Prego pasta sauce where not advertising for four weeks will not make a huge difference.”