U.S. Drug Policy Office Says 12-Market Test Is A Success

Phone calls to a national clearinghouse number from 12 major markets have increased 25 percent since the Office of National Drug Control Policy began a pilot anti-drug campaign in mid-January.
The pilot is Phase I of a three-part campaign, which will be backed by $150 million in paid media by the end of 1998, followed by another $195 million annually over four years. The campaign is using ads supplied by various agencies through the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, New York. The unprecedented effort does not rely primarily on broadcasters and magazines to provide free time and space.
“What we were most surprised by was the terrific success of the newspaper ads,” said Alan Levitt, senior adviser at the drug policy office, who pronounced the pilot a success. Six print ads and four TV spots carried the 1-800 number.
PDFA, too, has been deluged by calls. “I used to get 13 to 20 calls a week,” said Christi Segal, manager of community and volunteer relations. “Now I get that many calls in a day.” Many calls include requests for the print ads for use in schools and offices, she said.
According to the interim evaluation by CSR in Washington, D.C., 97 percent of grassroots leaders polled reported awareness of the campaign in their communities.
Twenty-nine TV commercials–including a dramatic reprise of the “Frying Pan” spot–have aired during prime-time slots such as Friends and Seinfeld, and top-rated annual events such as the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners in New York created the new “Frying Pan” ad which features a girl who smashes a kitchen with a frying pan as a metaphor for the damage heroin can inflict.
Separately, government bureaucracy 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. Officials with the drug policy office said they are committed to sending out both rfp’s by the end of April and holding a pre-bidders conference in D.C. 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.”