Survey Says: Drugs Are Less Cool With Teens

A new survey released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America today states that fewer teenagers think drugs are “cool” to use, due partly to a national anti-drug media campaign.
The study, which surveyed 6,529 13- to 18-year-olds, found that the number of teens exposed to anti-drug ads jumped from 32 percent last year to 45 percent this year. The survey attributes teens’ increased exposure to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s $1 billion anti-drug media campaign, which launched nationally in July 1998.
“We definitely see already the early impact of the campaign on teen attitudes,” said PDFA representative Steve Dnistrian. “This is the power of paid advertising.”
Specifically, the study found:
– 40 percent of teens agree that “really cool” teens do not use drugs, up from 35 percent in 1998.
– 42 percent of teens think rock and rap stars no longer make drug use seem glamorous, down from 48 percent in 1998.
– 35 percent of teens think “most people will try marijuana sometimes,” down from 40 percent in 1998.
“Advertising alone will not solve the drug problem,” said PDFA chairman James Burke, in a statement. “But advertising can help change attitudes–and changing attitudes is what’s key to reducing demand for drugs.”
Ad agencies work through the PDFA to prepare creative work for the campaign. The PDFA’s latest work includes four TV spots featuring tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams; Andy MacDonald; and the Dixie Chicks. One ad, by Muse Cordero Chen and Partners, Los Angeles, shows teens saying they are too smart to use drugs.
Ogilvy & Mather, New York, hired by ONDCP as the lead agency on the account, launched a TV and print campaign directed at parents in September. Ogilvy recently hired marketing specialist David Harris to oversee the account’s multicultural media efforts. The advertising is delivered in 11 languages.