Early spots of creative strategy used by the Partnership for Drug Free America in its advertising campaign are considered “melodramatic” relying too much on scare tactics and stereotypes such as the school bus driver who snorts cocaine; African-American boys selling crack in the school yard; and the “one puff and you are hooked” messages.
Academics as well as others studying the effects of drug abuse programs questioned these approaches, noting that scare tactics often have not been found to be an effective way to change attitudes and behavior Critics argued that there was no evidence to support the claim that the anti-drug ads could alter behavior.
1. Discuss the market segmentation strategies used by the PDFA and ONDCP in the anti-drug campaigns. Which of these segmentation strategies would be most likely to be effective?
An important change instituted by the ONDCP was a greater focus on market segmentation Recognizing that all drugs (and their consequences) are not the same, the ONDCP suggested that ads should be developed with the understanding that adolescents have different beliefs and attitudes toward various drugs, their consequences, the perceived risk associated with them, and social disapproval of their use. New ads were developed taking into consideration the type of drug and its consequences and the specific target audience. Different messages were designed to appeal to specific age groups such as young people, teens, and parents as well as different geographic, socio-economic, and ethnic audiences. The most effective segmentation is that one which relies on age, because the needs and believes about drugs and their consequences is much difference in teenagers than that in adults.
2. Much of the controversy surrounding the anti-drug advertising campaigns has involved the determination of the effectiveness of the ads. Evaluate the various approaches used to determine the effectiveness of the anti-drug ads. What types of measures should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign?
The ONDCP and PDFA has to provide that the money being spent on the anti-drug messages was having an impact and achieving the goal of reducing drug use among young people. Supporters and critics pointed to several research studies that they contended showed that the anti-drug advertising was working including the Gordon S. Black and Lloyd Johnston tracking studies.
However, three studies were most often cited to support the large government involvement including one conducted at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a second from the Stern School of Business at NYU and the third from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. However, these studies were severely criticized by Daniel Hill in an April 1998 article in Brandweek, a leading advertising and marketing trade publication. In the article, Hill argued that the support for funding more anti-drug advertising was based on faulty research.
In 1998 the Partnership and ONDCP began work on a new campaign that was designed to educate America’s youth as well as their parents about the dangers of drug use and provide them with resistance techniques that could be used when confronted with the choice of using drugs. The strategy for the new campaign evolved around five themes: 1. Instill the belief that drug use is not as common as kids think 2. Enhance negative social consequences of using drugs
3. Enhance the positive aspects of not using drugs
4. Enhance the variety of personal and social skills needed by youth 5. The positive use of time
The first year of the campaign consisted of three phases. The first phase involved a 12 city test of $20 million in paid anti-drug ads that were evaluated through focus...