The Meth Project “Ben”

One of four terrifying new TV spots for the now five-year-old Montana Meth Project from Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, “Ben” features staggeringly visceral-and depressing visuals from director and cinematographer Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight, Memento). The cuts are complimented by a shocking monologue, calmly recited like a children’s poem. The result is a one-two punch to the gut. “This is where he went into convulsions,” explains Ben’s female teenaged friend. “This is the emergency room where he nearly died/This is where he smoked it again right after he got out,” she says.  The ending is “This is what I said when he told me he was gonna try Meth,” (no sound at all, except for a match striking fire). It should be enough of a dose of reality to hammer home the tag line, “Meth. Not even Once.” The scared straight method works: One result:  since the Montana Meth Project launched, teen Meth use has declined by 63% and adult Meth use has decreased by more than 72%, according to the head of the state’s community service providers. Now the campaign is moving to other states, where Meth use has reached critical proportions. Kudos to all for creating advertising that actually relieves human suffering.–Barbara Lippert