New public service ads are a waste of money

Rebecca Bogler

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A few months ago President Bill Clinton announced a $100 million advertising campaign in an effort to fight the war on drugs and alcohol, and recently some of the ads have been aired. The disappointing thing is that Clinton promised these ads would be more powerful than ever so that children and adults would know the effects of drugs and alcohol.But the new ads I have been seeing on television have done little more than either make me laugh or make me flip the channel.

One is with a woman doing the “This is your brain on drugs” commercial, except instead of cracking an egg in a frying pan, she takes the pan and starts smashing everything. By the end of the commercial she has torn the kitchen apart and then says, “Any questions?” There was nothing in this ad that would dissuade me from using drugs; in fact, it made me wonder if the ad was trying to insinuate something about drugs and violence subliminally through the frying pan.

I’ve also seen a series of the drunk-driving commercials where they show home movies of kids playing and then show the date they died. These commercials have been running for several years and I think they have lost their impact.

Today, I think Americans are desensitized and are really not affected by these preventative commercials that the government invests a lot of money into making and airing. That is why the commercials should be more graphic and attention-getting if they are to have any impact on their target audience.

In an advertising class I took last semester we watched the International Advertising Awards, and the winner for the public service announcement commercial addressed the issue of heroin use.

The 60-second commercial actually showed a heroin addict shooting up heroin in one of the few veins that was left available in his body. One foot had been amputated because it became infected when he was shooting up between his toes.

It was even difficult for me to watch and at times I turned my head away, but the commercial obviously made an impression on me. The commercial was real and vivid which made it difficult to watch, but also made it that much more powerful and effective.

If the United States would start showing the real effects of drugs and alcohol on people’s lives, it would be investing our money a little bit more wisely than it currently is. There are ways to tastefully make a commercial without exploiting the lives of those who have died, and the government should realize that.

The ads should accurately depict the life of an addict or show the car accident that killed the family so it is more visual than audio for the person watching. This tactic may be drastic and shocking, but if it’s working for other countries, maybe we should give it a try.

The drug and alcohol situation is not going to go away with a few testimonials that don’t appall the public. There are only so many versions of the “brain on drugs” commercial that can run before someone realizes they aren’t working.

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