U.S. Anti-Drug Campaign Flops

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The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a wing of the U.S Executive Office of the President, started a media campaign to attack drug use in September of 1999. A main component of the campaign called phase three was specifically aimed at reducing marijuana use, which started in Oct 2002 ending June 2003. The target group was youth ages twelve to eighteen. Studies have shown that the ads have had no effect on reducing marijuana use. The appointed advertising company Ogilvy & Mathers, employed many techniques in getting the ads to effect youth even creating a brand name but to no avail. It is not clear what techniques Ogilvy & Mathers used in evaluating there adds appeal to youth but in this paper I will show that they did not consider some key points.

The media campaign had three goals:
Educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs; population. •Prevent youth from initiating use of drugs, especially marijuana and inhalants; and population. •Convince occasional users of these and other drugs to stop using drugs To accomplish these goals Ogilvy & Mathers, also media buyers put ads in all forms of print media, on public and private television, cinema and the Internet. The campaign cost an estimated 150 million dollars a year making all options possible. This phase and the entire campaign ended in the summer of 2003.

The proof that the ad campaign was a failure is supported by a research firm called Westat funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). In their executive summary it is stated that there is no evidence to support a reduction in marijuana use in conjunction with the ad campaign. Parents were also a sub target group of the campaign to increase drug talks with youth but this was also a failure. In the NIDA report, exposure to the ads was favourable in this sense to delivering the anti-marijuana message. Ad space was purchased so as exposure would be roughly two ads per week. This is the only...
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