Portland NORML News - Monday, December 15, 1997

US Government Launching Ad Campaign To Keep Kids Off Drugs ('Adweek' Magazine
Reports Feds Will Spend Nearly $1 Billion Over Next Five Years)

From: Majordomo@mapinc.org
] Subj: US: Fed Gov Launching Ad Campaign To Keep Kids Off Drugs
] From: Ethan Nadelmann
Source: Adweek Magazine
Editions: All editions
Author: Nora Fitzgerald
Pubdate: 15 Dec 97
Contact: Alison Fahey, Executive Editor/News 
Email: afahey@adweek.com


It's that time of year again: the season of excess, soul-searching and new
beginnings. What better time for the government to launch a grandiose media
campaign to keep today's kids away from the demon of drug addiction.

Indeed, as 1998 dawns, the federal government will begin spending nearly $1
billion over the next five years on a social-marketing ad campaign.
Realized in a hundred different ways and earmarked for parents, teens and
youngsters, the campaign focuses on a single goal: Just say no to drugs.  

The architects of this plan have their work cut out for them. When I told
teens that hundreds of millions of dollars were allotted to ensure they
stayed clean and sober, a handful of youths responded with an indifferent
"really" and "whatever."

If the U.S. Congress releases the first $ 175 million appropriated as
planned, the Office of National Drug Control Policy will begin the first
phase of its campaign, which kicks off with ads from the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America in early 1998.

The 12 test sites will be contrasted with 12 baseline cities where the ads
will not be broadcast and where few, if any, of the partnerships' previous
PSAs have run.

School surveys meant to aid the ONDCP will be conducted in both test site
and baseline cities. Taken at the beginning and end of the four-month
cycle, the surveys are designed to see whether kids' attitudes toward drugs
are changing.

Bob Hanley, a founding partner of Creative Media in New York, has high
hopes for the innovative, conceptual media plan his shop is creating for
the billion-dollar media blitz.

"We're treating this as a product introduction harvesting the strengths of
different media vehicles," Hanley says.

"This campaign will be prevalent not just in terms of frequency," he
insists, "but it will be culturally relevant to the person that we are
after. It will counteract all the stuff they get from the media and their

Hanley's emphasis on cultural relevance may be the key to the campaign's
success. Creative Media is developing a foundation that transcends the
strictly commercial realm. "We want it to be about Warner, ABC and others
developing a strategy for their own networks," he explains.

In fact, Congress has mandated that the $ 175 million the ONDCP spends on
anti-drug media in 1998 must be matched with in-kind donations. Creative
Media's idea is to form alliances with MTV, Fox Broadcasting Co. and ABC,
among other networks, and create PSAs with the TV actors that kids relate
to best. The concept is not unlike NBC's highly controversial "The More You
Know" campaign, which utilized talent from ER and Friends.

Creative Media, in essence, is a handmaiden to this ever-evolving network
partnership. Despite its involvement, however, the agency is precluded from
competing in the review to place media over the next five years.

Still, Creative Media recently met with other major players, including
Washington, D.C.'s Porter Novelli, the partnership and Zenith Media, New
York, to cement this unprecedented initiative. Sources close to the process
report that Zenith has been contracted, without a competitive bid, to place
the media in the campaign's 12 test markets over the next four months.

That phase will be followed by a national rollout, which is scheduled to
run from May through August. By the end of phase two, the ONDCP will have
selected a media buying or general-service agency to help launch the
integrated communications plan over the next four years.

This anti-drug effort is easily the most ambitious social-marketing
campaign the government has ever embarked upon. Not surprisingly, all the
participants are braced for trouble--not the least of which will be
overcoming the endless government red tape.

Each phase of the campaign has to be evaluated and reviewed by Congress; it
is not yet clear whether Congress will want to see the partnership's ads
before they air, although the partnership has made it clear it will not
cede creative control of its agencies' product to federal authority.

Moreover, the first year of the campaign is crammed with participants.
Porter Novelli was hired to create an integrated communications plan and an
RFP for the five-year rollout, while

Creative Media was subcontracted to create a conceptual media plan. Each
move must be evaluated by all major players, including the agency that wins
the ultimate bid to place media.

And Congress, to date, has been slow in awarding its appropriations, which
could throw off the schedule of the much-touted plan.

Thus far, broadcasters are eager to get on board, although some are
confused about what is expected of them in terms of matching donations as
programming time versus running a traditional PSA.

A few fear the ONDCP and the partnership may try to influence the content
on such programs as after-school specials and town meetings, which will
function as the networks' in-kind donations.

But their fears may be unwarranted: "If ABC wants to do something for us,
to use on-air talent," says Hanley, "the message may not be written by the
partnership. It will use the voice of the on-air personalities."

Despite any potential complications, it is an ambitious, hopeful project
supported by some of the stellar lights of government and business. Ads are
being developed to target the West Coast, where crystal meth is all the
rage, as well as the East Coast, where inhalants are the drugs of choice
among teens.

An added twist: New ads targeted to parents confront many of the myths of
drug abuse, such as the misconception that it's an inner-city problem.

"Burbs," an ad developed by Publicis/Bloom for the partnership, is a
pastel-colored spot that shows a kid skateboarding in a classic suburban
cul-de-sac. The voiceover states that 40 percent of drug abusers live in
the city, then goes on to add, "Guess where the other 60 percent live?"
Several heroin spots use gritty, graphic footage to help deglamorize drugs
for kids.

Who is overseeing this byzantine effort, which combines the best and worst
of government action? Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the head of the ONDCP. The
white-haired gentleman soldier is betting his whole career on the idea that
advertising works. After all, he's seen it work its magic before.

Most Vietnam-era baby boomers can remember N.W. Ayer's classic theme, "Be
all that you can be ... in the Army." McCaffrey wants to see that same kind
of hard-hitting, emotionally relevant advertising instituted again.

Indeed, he and his staff genuinely believe that the only chance the
anti-drug campaign has of reaching America's children is if it's the
hippest, most relevant work around.

Copyright 1997 A/S/M Communications, Inc.  

Letter To Editor - Cruel And Unusual (Massachusetts Attorney Writes To
'The Cape Cod Times')

From: dwe@capecod.net (Richard D. Elrick, Esq.)
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Letter to Editor - "Cruel and unusual"


TELEPHONE (508) 775-1700          FAX (508) 771-5409          E-mail dwe@capecod.net

December 15, 1997

Letters Editor 
Cape Cod Times
319 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601

Drugs and Justice

Debra Saunders' editorial, ("Cruel and unusual", Dec. 14), concerning the
draconian results of the mandatory minimum sentencing laws drives home the
point that for many of us is already quite obvious, and that is that the
harm caused by our country's failed drug war is often far greater than that
which results from the use of the drugs themselves. Her description of the
plight of Kemba Smith is similar to that of Will Foster from Oklahoma. A
family man with no record of violence, he was recently sentenced, under his
state's mandatory minimum guidelines, to 93 years in prison for growing less
than 30 marijuana plants; all of which were to be used as medicine for Mr.
Foster's debilitating arthritic pain.

As Assistant Attorney General William Brownsberger, the author of a recent
Harvard Medical School study of the effects of Massachusetts' mandatory
minimum sentencing law has said, "Mandatory sentencing laws are wasting
prison resources on nonviolent, low-level offenders and reducing resources
available to lock up violent offenders."

One of the fundamental requirements of any responsible and constitutional
criminal justice system is that there be a rational relationship between the
crime committed and the resulting criminal sanction. In other words, the
punishment should fit the crime. That requirement is clearly not met when
marijuana users are incarcerated for consuming a plant which by every
scientific and anecdotal standard is less toxic and addictive than either
alcohol or tobacco.

The abuse of drugs is harmful, but when a nonviolent drug offender ends up
serving more time than someone convicted of manslaughter or armed robbery,
then justice and common sense have fallen by the wayside.


						Richard D. Elrick, Esq.




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