Paid Anti-Drug Ads Succeed

Phone calls to anti-drug coalitions in 12 major U.S. cities have increased 25 percent since the Office of National Drug Control Policy here began its Phase I test pilot paid-media campaign in mid-January.
According to the interim evaluation, compiled by CSR Inc. in Washington, D.C., 97 percent of community leaders polled reported awareness of the anti-drug advertising.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) campaign, which is using creative work from the New York-based Partnership for a Drug-Free America, is unprecedented in that it is spending nearly $1 billion over five years to pay for its advertising. That replaces the long-standing practice of relying on broadcasters and magazine publishers to provide free time and space.
Twenty-nine television commercials–including the revamped “This is your brain” frying pan spot–have aired during coveted prime-time slots on programs such as Friends and Seinfeld, as well as on top-rated telecasts of events like the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. The broadcast efforts are backed by a complement of print ads.
Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners in New York created the new “Frying Pan” TV spot. The ad shows a girl smashing a kitchen with a frying pan as a metaphor for the damage heroin can inflict.
Government bureaucracy, however, has slowed the release of the requests for proposals to place media for Phase II, a national rollout in 1998; and Phase III, the four-year national campaign. ONDCP officials, however, said they remain committed to sending out agency questionnaires by the end of this month and conducting a pre-bidders conference here in mid-May.
“I know this seems slow to advertising people,” said one official, “but we’re working at the speed of light for the federal government.”