WASHINGTON -- Anti-drug ads by J. Walter Thompson featuring teens talking tough to their folks elicited such a positive response from parents that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has tapped the shop to create a new series of similar spots.
JWT in Chicago is one of about 40 shops that contribute creative work on ONDCP's campaign through the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Ogilvy & Mather in New York manages ONDCP's partners and has provided some branding work for the campaign.
"The parent ads are among the strongest we have had in the campaign," said Alan Levitt, ONDCP director of the media campaign. "People call in and say they feel empowered."
The three new 30-second spots feature the same teen and parent characters from the previous effort, which broke in April. This time, the parents do the talking.
In the first spot, "Gene," the camera follows the teen as he hangs out on the street and at home. As images of Gene appear, the dad speaks. "I know my son," the father says. "He hangs out with the same guys at the same place every day. He tells me his English teacher spits when she talks. I know he hates me this time. He knows people who smoke weed, and it scares me to death. But I know he stays away from it. How do I know? I ask."
The second spot, "Ananda," shows a teenage girl driving a van. As she drives, her mother's voice is heard. "I know my daughter," Mom says. "She is just like me. She works for every grade she gets. She thinks I dress like an idiot, and she wishes her chest were bigger. She knows people who do drugs. I know she doesn't do them. I know because I ask all the time."
"Loss," the last spot, depicts a teen named Peter, who plays the guitar in his backyard. His father starts talking. "It is hard to lose your best friend, especially when it is your son. O I pry into his life. I set the rules and I will never waiver. He says, eI will never treat my son like this,' and I think, eIf you love him, you will.' "
At the end of the spots, the questions appear: "Ask who? What? Where? When?"
The ads are expected to break Dec. 3 on ABC, CBS and NBC on shows including The Guardian, According to Jim and Providence.
JWT executive creative director Dennis Ryan said the new ads use leftover footage from the spots shot in the spring by Los Angeles-based director Peter Goldschmidt. "Our creative fear was it would sound like a radio spot with just some random pictures," Ryan said. "So we found a way to write a script specifically to the footage that we had."
Ryan said the first round of ads for the $20 million-plus campaign was well received because parents "could see the human and emotional communication." But he said creating the second round was more challenging, since ONDCP wanted to stick with the original footage.
"We needed the messages to be new and fresh, but we were literally working with outtakes," Ryan said.
Then one of the networks objected to a word in the script of the
"Ananda" spot. The mother originally said: "She thinks I dress like an idiot, and she wishes her boobs were bigger." The word "boobs" was changed to "chest."
The tagline, "Questions: the anti-drug," appears in all the spots.