ONDCP Goes ‘Above the Influence’

WASHINGTON The first of six spots from IPG’s Foote Cone & Belding for the White House’s anti-drug media campaign, which breaks this week, is designed to help teenagers resist negative pressure, administration officials said.

Called “Awakenings,” the 30-second spot opens on the face of a teenager as the voiceover says, “There comes a time when you realize you’re not a kid anymore. Suddenly you have to make decisions everyday . . . This is a time when you define yourself or let others define you.” The spot introduces the tagline, “Above the influence.”

This effort marks a change in approach for the teen portion of the anti-drug campaign from “My anti-drug,” a tagline introduced by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, which previously held the account. One of FCB’s first tasks after winning the account from Ogilvy was to focus on developing a new message for teens. The “Above the influence” campaign is the result of that work [Adweek, Sept. 19].

The 2005 media budget for the campaign is $120 million, with $25 million being spent on the latest six spots.

“We had an opportunity to make the whole concept of “anti-drug” more aspirational and to figure out a way of taking the notion of drug use and putting it in the context of something teens could find motivating,” said Kim Corrigan, FCB’s evp and worldwide account director. “This brand platform will stick with [teens] . . . because it is the kind of message that is more readily internalized when they are confronted with the choice of to smoke pot or not. It is more peer to peer and it feels more authentic.”

Steve Schiller, FCB’s svp of account planning, said the message was a “cool” one for teens. “It is an accepted fact that people start drugs because someone turns them on to it,” Schiller said. “The world of influence can be the external pressure that brings you down or the internal pressure of wanting to be liked. This is all a response to influence.”

Five more spots will follow in the coming weeks featuring images of external pressure, such as somebody putting a beer bottle in a teenager’s hand, or internal pressures like wanting to look like someone in a magazine.

Even though the campaign is aimed at decreasing marijuana use, the message works for other drugs and even alcohol, said Tom Riley, a representative of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The campaign is intended to steer teens away from bad decisions,” Riley said. “And if teens also read into this that it is an anti-alcohol message, that doesn’t hurt the anti-drug message.”

The first spot will air on shows such as UPN’s Everybody Hates Chris, Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle, the WB’s Charmed and ABC Family’s Grounded for Life.