Next Wave of Ogilvy Drugs-and-Terror Spots Breaks

The White House broke new drugs-and-terror ads last night on the heels of its own survey, which found that parents’ and teens’ opinions of the series’ first two ads were “somewhat less than positive.”

The first two executions ran during the Super Bowl in January. Joe Pytka directed the new ones debuting yesterday from Ogilvy & Mather.

Called the “Nick and Norm” series, the six new 15- and 30-second spots feature short conversations in which one man tries to convince another that buying drugs can fund terrible acts. In one spot, a man says something like, “Hey, this doesn’t apply to me. I only buy $20 worth of drugs. That’s not very much.” A second man says, “So you only support terror a little bit.” The tagline: “Drug money supports terrible things.”

“The drugs-and-terror ads introduced a powerful new idea in a deliberately provocative way,” said White House drug policy office rep Tom Riley. “We accomplished what we hoped to accomplish, and those effects can’t be captured by the … survey.”

Ogilvy referred calls to the client.

The latest study also found that the ads raised awareness about drugs among parents, but have done nothing to change behavior among the youth. The same conclusion was drawn in a previous May survey, which began a round of Congressional hearings. At the time, Drug Czar John Walters testified he was willing to kill the campaign if the research didn’t show a positive change in teen behavior. Lawmakers use the survey to measure the campaign’s effectiveness, but some say the tool is flawed.

Instead of interviewing parents and teens separately, the survey asks parents and teens about drugs in their homes. Critics argue teens will not tell the truth about drugs if they know the same researchers are talking to their parents.

“My concern is there is a systematic bias when you interview in the home with both a child and parents present,” said Paul Zimmerman, a senior market researcher at Procter & Gamble who measures the effectiveness of media campaigns for a Cincinnati drug coalition.