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Using Advertising to Fight the War on Drugs: The Power of Social Marketing or a Waste of Money?

Teaching ote
!ase "verview
This case examines the advertising efforts that have been used by the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) for the past nearly 20 years and more recently the !"#" government through the $ffice of %ational Drug &ontrol Policy ($%D&P) to deal 'ith the problem of illicit drug use" The PDFA consists of a coalition of advertising mar(eting and media people and has been conducting the largest public)service advertising and social mar(eting campaign in history 'ith the goal of helping (ids and teens avoid drug use by influencing their attitudes through persuasive information" *n +,,- the !"#" government became involved in the use of advertising to fight the 'ar on drugs 'hen the !"#" &ongress approved The Media Campaign Act of 1998 'hich directed the $%D&P to conduct a national media campaign for the purpose of reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the !nited #tates" As part of this legislation the federal government allocated a billion dollars over a five year period for a mass)media based drug prevention campaign" .o'ever after only a fe' years the PDFA and $%D&P found themselves in a battle for control of the anti)drug advertising efforts over issues such as the type of ads that should be used and 'hether monies should be allocated primarily to media advertising or to support a more broad)based integrated mar(eting communications program" /oreover both organi0ations have had to deal 'ith 1uestions regarding the effectiveness of the anti)drug advertising campaign in reducing drug use and 'hether the government should continue to fund their efforts" This case can be used 'ith &hapter +, 'hich deals 'ith measuring the effectiveness of the promotional program as 'ell as 'ith &hapter 22 'hich deals 'ith social and ethical aspects of advertising and promotion and the use of advertising to deal 'ith the problem of drug abuse" This case should be of interest to students as they have probably seen many of the anti)drug ads run by the PDFA and the $%D&P and can discuss 'hether they feel these messages have had any effect on them or their peers 'ith regard to attitudes to'ard drug use or actual behavior" The classroom discussion of this case can be enhanced by sho'ing some of the anti)drug ads created by the PDFA that are available on D2D 3 of the video supplement pac(age" The D2D contains recent commercials developed by various ad agencies for the Partnership that address various drug problems such as the use of methamphetamines prescription4over)the)counter drug abuse steroids and an intervention campaign" #everal of the print ads from the $%D&P5s campaigns can be found in the set of acetates that are provided in the supplement pac(age" 6ou might also encourage students to visit the 'eb sites of the PDFA ('''"drugfree"org) and

the $%D&P ('''"'hitehousedrugpolicy"gov)" The PDFA 'eb site has a section containing many the Partnerships latest commercials by category including drug agency audience and medium" The $%D&P site has a /edia &ampaign section that contains the latest television and radio commercials as 'ell as print ads"

Discussion #uestions
$% &valuate the creative strategy used 'y the Partnershi( for a Drug Free A)erica in its advertising ca)(aign* (articularly with res(ect to the use of strong fear a((eals% *n the early years of the PFDA campaign numerous agencies provided pro bono creative" /any of the messages attempted to employ strong fear appeals to 7scare8 the audience into not using drugs" Ads sho'ing a rat eating cocaine until it died or in 'hich an analogy 'as dra'n bet'een using drugs and pointing a gun to one5s head (a shot is heard at the very end of the commercial) along 'ith others of this nature 'ere commonly employed" *n many of the cases the commercials 'ere not effective as vie'ers engaged in selective exposure by not 'atching paid little attention to the ads or counter argued 'ith them" As noted in the case the ads 'ere often exaggerated distorted or misrepresented" The effective use of fear appeals particularly those indicating physical harm is often a difficult tas( to achieve" As noted in the text some studies have demonstrated a curvilinear impact of fear in 'hich the message increases in effectiveness to a point then decreases" *n some of the early PFDA commercials the appeals may have been too strong 'hich limited their effectiveness" 9esearch has also indicated that fear appeals are li(ely to 'or( best 'ith nonusers as opposed to users of drugs" :iven that one of the goals of the campaign 'as to reach young people before they started using drugs the use of fear appeals could be effective as long as the level of fear is not too high" $n the other hand the li(elihood of impacting users is lo'er" #ome studies have demonstrated that more rational messages are li(ely to 'or( than fear appeals particularly 'ith adolescents" %oting that this age group tends to be s(eptical and even cynical approaching them 'ith a matter of fact approach might prove to be more useful than attempting to scare them" A good example of this s(epticism 'as the famous ad 7This is your brain on drugs8 commercial 'hich featured an adult frying an egg and dra'ing an analogy to frying one5s brain" The commercial 'as parodied on T2 sho's bumper stic(ers and t)shirts and li(ely did more harm to the anti)drug cause than good" ;ater in the campaign the appeals 'ere considered by the drug c0ar <ohn P" =alters to be too 7soft8 and 7indirect8" .e argued that the anti)drug ads 'ere ineffective and that the message had become diluted" =alters and the $%D&P called for stronger appeals and ads lin(ing drug use to terrorism" The PDFA refused to produce spots that contained this message so the $%D&P had them produced

themselves" 9eaction by teens to the terrorism lin(ed spots 'ould seem to favor the PDFA position" =hile >0? of those participating in the research said that if drug money 'ent to support terrorism they 'ould thin( about not using drugs most of the feedbac( indicated that the commercials 'ere an over reaction a 7typical adult overstatement8 and insulting to them" As noted by one creative executive@ 7Aids told us 7* did not bomb the =orld Trade &enter" * Bust smo(ed a Boint at lunch"8 The research on fear appeals indicates that they must be used carefully and pre)tested prior to being used" +% Discuss the )arket seg)entation strategies used 'y the PDFA and " D!P in the anti,drug ca)(aigns% Which of these seg)entation strategies would 'e )ost likely to 'e effective? As noted in the case a number of segmentation bases have been used in the anti)drug advertising campaign of the PDFA and $%D&P" The segmentation strategy used most often is based on demographic variables specifically age" Throughout the PFDA campaigns specific messages have been developed for different age groups ranging from the very young to adults" =hen the $%D&P became involved segmentation too( on an even more critical role 'ith socio)economic ethnicity and geographic factors being used" The research indicating the importance and value of reaching parents led to additional attention being placed on them as a segment as 'ell" Another important segmentation strategy used in these campaigns is based on reaching drug users and nonusers" As noted earlier responses to various types of appeals may differ depending upon 'hether the individual is using drugs" !sers may be less rational and less receptive to the anti)drug messages than nonusers" The latter might internali0e the anti)drug messages and vie' them as support for the decision that they have made not to use drugs" #egmentation on the basis of geographical criteria has also been employed" /any of the commercials developed appeared to target 7inner city8 or urban youth particularly those involving appeals for hard drugs li(e crac( cocaine" *n the early days of the campaign there seemed to be a perception that only those living in the inner cities used drugs" .o'ever studies have sho'n young people living in the suburbs as 'ell as rural areas are not immune from drug abuse" Depicting drug abuse as a problem limited to the inner cities could lead to a false sense of security for suburban and rural inhabitants or a basis for denial that the problem exists 'here they live" Age is another important mar(et segmentation base" 9eaching children before they begin using drugs is an important goal of the campaign" Previous research has sho'n that the appeals have had different impact on various age groups" Carlier research provided by the PFDA indicated that the appeals 'ere not 'or(ing 'ith 'ell 'ith +D)+- year olds and considered them the most difficult segment to reach" *t is obvious that appeals must be developed for different age groups as they 'ill have different lifestyles needs and motives that may impact their li(elihood of using drugs" Additionally the distinction bet'een

appealing to (ids and their parents is a critical one" For many children their parents are their role models and they are respected if not revered" As noted many parents did not recogni0e that they still could ma(e an impact on their children5s decision to use drugs" Thus the development of advertising strategies to reach them as 'ell as their children is a critical one" As noted to'ard the end of the case the emphasis on targeting continues to change" First there 'as emphasis on youth and nonusers" Then the appeals targeted parents 'ith the belief that they could impact their children" Ey the end of 200D there 'as again a shift bac( to focusing on youth" This s'itch lead to a change in creative as 'ell as media strategy" There is also a lac( of consistency in respect to the appeals based on the type of drugs used" Carly ads focused on hard core drugs then the campaigns addressed less addictive substances as 'ell as mariBuana and hard core drugs and then again shifted bac( to a strong focus on mariBuana" This lac( of concentration over the years may be contributing to the perceived ineffectiveness of the program" 9egardless of the segmentation strategy employed it is obvious that an undifferentiated strategy is not going to be successful" *t should also be noted that there are different media habits for the various segments as they 'ill not all 'atch the same T2 sho's nor read the same maga0ines" The *nternet has become a more important medium to some segments than others" Thus the PDFA and $%D&P 'ill need to continue to segment the mar(et understand these segments and determine the most effective 'ay to reach them if they hope to be successful" -% Much of the controversy surrounding the anti,drug advertising ca)(aigns has involved the deter)ination of the effectiveness of the ads% &valuate the various a((roaches used to deter)ine the effectiveness of the anti,drug ads% What ty(es of )easures should 'e used to evaluate the effectiveness of the ca)(aign? :iven the tremendous amount of money spent each year to develop and run the anti)drug advertisements measuring the effectiveness of the campaign is essential" *f the government is to continue to expend hundreds of millions of dollars on the anti)drug campaigns and advertising and media companies are going to continue to contribute their time and effort they need to be sure that this money is being 'ell spent" *n addition they need to (no' 'hich program elements are 'or(ing and 'hich are not" Therefore the issue is not 'hether there measures of effectiveness should be ta(en but rather 'hat these measures should be" =hat is interesting about this case is that the criteria used to measure the effectiveness of the campaign may not be in line 'ith the obBectives of the campaign" As noted many of the obBectives involved the changing of attitudes to'ard drug use by enhancing positive aspects of not using drugs and negative aspects of social use 'hich ultimately 'ould lead to behavioral change" !nfortunately many of the bases for evaluation have involved a direct attempt to e1uate declines in drug usage to the campaigns themselves" For example the last t'o studies cited in the case used effectiveness measures that included

attitudinal and behavioral intention results but then seemed to focus on the fact that drug had not decreased" As 'ith other attempts to measure advertising effectiveness it is extremely difficult to determine the direct impact of the ads on behavior" As is the case 'ith product4service advertising there are many other factors that 'ill influence behavior" For products and services it may be price availability 1uality competition and other factors" =ith respect to using drugs other factors 'ill also have an impact including peer pressure availability price and characteristics of the user such as his or her self)esteem" Attempting to relate increases and decreases in drug use figures directly to the impact of the advertising campaigns is li(ely to be extremely difficult" /any of the studies also may have been influenced by the fact that they employ self)report measures" As(ing respondents 'hether they sa' and recall the ads may be valid measures but attitudinal and4or behavioral measures may be impacted by socially desirable responsesFparticularly among adolescents" *f you as(ed a teen their reaction or attitude to'ard an anti)drug ad they 'ill be inclined to overstate the amount of influence" *f you as(ed them if they did drugs or if the ads 'ould ma(e them less li(ely to do so they may be un'illing to respond positively to the first 1uestion and negatively to the second" Thus the survey results may be distorted" Perhaps the greatest value of the research used to measure effectiveness 'ould be an attempt to assess recall of the messages and assign a value to the appeals themselves" *n this 'ay some communications measures of the impact of the campaigns 'ould be ta(en 'ith the information useful in developing future commercials" This information might also be useful for determining the relative effectiveness of media placements if it could be determined 'here these commercials and ads 'ere seen or heard" .o'ever e1uating the effectiveness of the campaign to increases or decreases in the use of drugs may be too much to as(" .% Discuss the )erits of using an integrated )arketing co))unications (rogra) that enco)(asses a variety of co))unication tools to (revent drug use versus an a((roach that relies (ri)arily on )edia advertising% $ne of the basic premises of */& is that the various mar(eting communication tools offer different advantages and disadvantages and that the utili0ation of an integrated approach 'ill lead to a more effective and cost efficient communications program" This is li(ely to be the case for the 'ar on drugs though many of those involved in the PDFA might disagree" .o'ever the anti)drug campaign may benefit from the use of a variety of */& tools to deliver the message regarding the dangers of using drugs" .o'ever the re1uirement that as much as -0? of the budget be spent on media does not support the use of an */& approach" As noted by 9ichard Carle the use of an integrated campaign designed to drive vie'ers to the 'ebsites of the PDFA and4or $%D&P offers great potential" As noted in the text a

number of companies and organi0ations have used this strategy such as the !"# Army %i(e /a0da and many others" The PDFA and $%D&P 'ould best be advised to consider a combination of mass media and other */& tools to achieve their communication goals" A problem that might hinder the use of a more integrated campaign could be the ability to measure its effectiveness" *t is very difficult to measure the effectiveness of media advertising and adding more communication tools to the mix may ma(e it even more difficult to do so" .o'ever the fact that an integrated approach may complicate the measurement of effectiveness does not mean it should be abandoned" *n the case it is mentioned that the Allen 9osenshine vice chairman of the PDFA critici0ed the integrated mar(eting communications effort noting that it is too complex and that establishing +, communications obBectives complicated things" .e argued for an effort in 'hich advertising and message repetition is the core of the strategy thus simplifying the process" .o'ever it has been noted by advertising industry Bournalists that that /r" 9osenshine5s advertising agency EED$ =orld'ide has used */& programs for many of its clients" An additional consideration in 'hether the PDFA should move to more of an integrated approach is 'here the support for this effort 'ill come from" The PFDA relies heavily on 'ith pro bono 'or( and media support 'hich is donated by the advertising agencies and media companies" A factor to consider in the allocation mix is the impact that the shifting of the emphasis of the campaign to other */& tools such as direct media or the *nternet might have on the pro bono support the PDFA receives" /% &valuate the advertising ca)(aign develo(ed 'y "gilvy 0 Mather for the " D!P linking drug use with terroris)% Do you think these ads were an effective way of changing the attitudes and 'ehavior of young (eo(le with regard to the use of drugs? Why or why not?

The goal of the drugs)and)terror campaign developed for and sponsored by the $%D&P 'as to lin( drug use 'ith the support of terrorism by suggesting that illegal drug sales are a maBor source of money for terrorists" The ads implied that the 'eapons and other supplies used by terrorists 'ere paid for by the money they get from drug sales" The idea behind the campaign 'as that people 'ould be less li(ely to use illegal drugs if they understood that by using them they might be supporting terrorism" The campaign 'as launched five months after the #eptember ++ 200+ terrorist attac(s and 'as designed to capitali0e on the public5s outrage over the terrorist attac( as part of the effort to fight drug abuse in the !nited #tates" A second part of the campaign 'as designed to refute the notion that illegal drug use is a victimless crime and shifted the focus from terrorism to personal harm 'ith ads suggesting that the purchase of drugs supported drug)cartel attac(s on innocent people"


The campaign 'as very controversial and 'as critici0ed by many different groups" #ome 'ere critical of the government5s effort to dra' a connection bet'een drug money and terrorism arguing that it 'as not fair to blame nonviolent drug users for the actions of terrorists or drug cartels" $ther groups such as the %ational $rgani0ation for /ariBuana ;egali0ation argued that the campaign created a false impression that terrorism is caused by drugs rather than the illegality of drugs" :roups such as %$9/; argued that legali0ation of some drugs is the ans'er to the problem rather than trying to discourage drug use" The Partnership for a Drug)Free America 'as also opposed to the campaign as it did not agree 'ith the strategy behind the ads" The Partnership feels that the best 'ay to deal 'ith the problem is to promote drug resistance techni1ues positive alternatives to drug use and parental involvement" The $%D&P decided to stop running the controversial campaign in /ay of 200D" The reason given for the decision 'as that the campaign put the $%D&P in a battle 'ith the PDFA since the ads 'ere produced outside of the Partnership by the drug office5s agency $gilvy H /ather" The $%D&P 'anted to present a more united front 'ith the Partnership to &ongress 'hich has to vote to extend the anti)drug campaign" The drug office announced that it 'ould be directing more of its money to'ard youth)oriented media and focus its effort on halting drug use among (ids rather than trying to deter them from starting to use drugs" 1% &valuate the )erits of the anti,drug advertising ca)(aign fro) a social (ers(ective% Should the govern)ent 'e involved in this effort or is the PDFA the )ore a((ro(riate organi2ation? *t is unli(ely that anyone 'ould challenge the goal of the anti)drug campaigns of the PDFA and $%D&P as drug use among young people is a maBor societal problem" As noted in the case the original founders of the PFDA had no political agenda and established the organi0ation 'ith truly altruistic goals in mind" The fact that the original concept 'as based on pro bono 'or( and contributions spea(s even more to the intentions of the founders and participants" The 'or( of the PDFA over the past t'o decades is often recogni0ed as an example of an effective cause)related mar(eting campaign and ho' advertising can be used to deal 'ith a social problem" .o'ever many experts feel that the involvement by the $%D&P altered the landscape in the use of advertising to fight the 'ar on drugs" &ritics argued that government involvement politici0ed the effort and interfered 'ith the efforts of the PDFA" *n addition many disagreed 'ith the use of tax dollars to fund the anti)drug campaign arguing that it 'as not really a good investment of government funds" Perhaps the biggest concern is that of direct involvement of the federal government" The PFDA consists of practitioners in the advertising and media industries and the campaign is an extension of their expertise to a 'orthy cause" *t entails the use of advertising 'hich is 'hat they do day)to)day and they are

good at it" :overnment officials are not li(ely to be as (no'ledgeable of advertising and media strategy as those 'ho 'or( in these industries" The case notes the fact that the marriage bet'een the PDFA and $%D&P 'as not a happy one and one might speculate as to the reasons 'hy and 'ho 'as to blame" %evertheless an adversarial relationship has developed that is li(ely to be counterproductive unless steps are ta(en to address the problems bet'een the t'o organi0ations" Another factor to consider is the actual amount of government money being allocated to the campaign" $ne might argue that so long as the creative and media time is being provided on a pro bono basis the effort is 'orth'hile as there is no direct cost to the taxpayer" .o'ever 'hen tax dollars are being spent to run the ads accountability becomes much more of an issue" People 'ant to (no' 'here their tax dollars are being spent and if it is a 'orth'hile use of these monies" Thus there 'ill be more pressure to produce positive results to demonstrate the value of the investment" The 'ar on drugs is not the first time that advertising has bee used to address a social problem nor is it li(ely to be the last" Drug use among young people is a maBor problem in the !nited #tates and that steps must be ta(en to remedy the situation" The best 'ay to do this may yet to be determined but advertising and other */& tools can be of value in this ongoing battle"