Pubdate: Mon, 16 Sep 2002
Source: Advertising Age (US)
Section: Bob Garfield's Ad Review
Contact:  2002 Crain Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Garfield


This Is Your Conscience.

This Is Your Conscience On Drugs.

Advertiser: White House Office of Drug Control Policy
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New York
Star Rating: 3.5

Thus the basic message of the latest pool of spots from the White House 
Office of Drug Control Policy, which once again seeks to explode the notion 
of drug use as a victimless crime. We'll see. So far, the main victim has 
been the drug office itself. When the campaign broke on the Super Bowl 
drawing a connection between drug money and terrorism, the critics pounced.

'Absurd extreme' "Blaming nonviolent kids for terrorism is like blaming 
beer drinkers for Al Capone's murders," Ethan Nadelman, a decriminalization 
advocate, told the Miami Herald. Abigail Trafford of the Washington Post 
said the premise was exaggerated to an "absurd extreme." And Christopher 
Caldwell of the Weekly Standard declared the campaign, "Propaganda worthy 
of the Soviet Union."

Oh, really?

Well, comrade, the FBI earlier this month said it has conclusively linked a 
Midwest amphetamine manufacturing operation to the Hezbollah. The Taliban, 
of course, was in the opium business. And if counterfeit infant formula is 
a cash cow for Egyptian extremists, is it not reasonable to suspect that 
drugs are, as well?

Deadly consequences The point of the advertising was never to blame the 
9/11 attacks on a bunch of American stoners; it was simply to emphasize 
that recreational drug use -- wholly apart from any health and Related 
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social-policy questions -- has deadly consequences.

Maybe the message argues more for decriminalization than for abstinence, 
but in any event it is sobering to consider, and sobering is what this 
advertising wants to be.

So now come two fresh scenarios from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, cleverly 
showing the chain -- link by link -- between domestic drug consumption and 
all sorts of mayhem down the line.

One spot begins with a pretty young woman buying a dime bag and ends with a 
child shot in drug-warfare crossfire. Another shows us Dan, just a guy in 
his 20s, watching the tube. He could be your buddy, your big brother, your 
kid brother, your dad.

"This is Dan," says the voice-over.

"This is the joint that Dan bought."

We see the joint. Then we see a phenomenally beautiful and only vaguely 
dangerous-looking young woman descending into a cellar club.

The ultimate drama "This is the dealer who sold the joint that Dan bought." 
Then we see a total dirtbag, as, one by one, the various players in the 
ultimate drama are introduced. No reason to further describe the visuals. 
You get the point.

"This is the smuggler that smuggled the pot to the dealer who sold the 
joint that Dan bought.

"This is the cartel that uses the smuggler that smuggled the pot to the 
dealer who sold the joint that Dan built.

"And this is the family that was tied up by Dan's cartel and shot for 
getting in the way. "Responsibility's a bitch -- isn't it, Dan?" Then the 
onscreen message:

"Drug money supports terrible things. If you buy drugs you might too."

We could do without the last sentence, which would superfluous even if it 
were properly punctuated. But otherwise we are totally sold. No dime bags 
for us.

Although we would like to meet Dan's dealer, just to, you know, explain the 
error of her ways.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom