Pubdate: Mon, 10 Nov 2003
Source: Ad Week (US)
Copyright: 2003 Ad Week
Author: Wendy Melillo


'This Bill Reflects A Concern About How The Program Has Been Managed In The 

WASHINGTON  -- The draft of a Senate bill that would oust Ogilvy & Mather 
from the White House's anti-drug media campaign and give the Partnership 
for a Drug-Free America as much control over strategy as the Office of 
National Drug Control Policy is the latest sign that lawmakers intend to 
rein in an effort they feel has run amok, congressional and other sources said.

"This bill reflects a concern about how the program has been managed in the 
past," one congressional source said.

The reauthorization bill expected to be introduced this week will have to 
be reconciled with a House version introduced in May that does not address 
Ogilvy's role or the amount of creative control allocated to the 
Partnership. In the Senate, the bill is being sponsored by Joseph Biden, 
D-Del., and Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

The lawmakers' dissatisfaction stems from concern that the campaign has 
shown mixed results, dismay over the public feuding between ONDCP and the 
Partnership over creative control, and anger over the White House 
drug-policy office's decision to select the New York office of Ogilvy again 
after settling civil charges over its billing practices. "If you are 
putting together a campaign where the purpose is to change beliefs, you 
don't want someone with questionable morals trying to preach that message," 
the source said.

The draft bill calls for hiring an agency that would solely handle the 
media portion of the campaign; the Partnership would then handle all the 
creative. Ogilvy handles media and some creative. (Before Ogilvy was hired, 
during the campaign's pre-launch phase, Zenith Media handled media.) "The 
media buying firm shall not provide any service or material, or conduct any 
function or activity which can be provided by the Partnership," the draft 
bill reads.

The Partnership, which coordinates pro bono ads for the campaign 
contributed by about 40 shops, was unhappy when the ONDCP asked Ogilvy to 
prepare ads for its drugs-and-terror campaign outside the Partnership's 
process. Those ads debuted during last year's Super Bowl.

Both ONDCP and the Partnership declined comment. Ogilvy referred calls to 

The draft bill also calls for all PSAs aired as part of ONDCP's media match 
to "directly relate to substance-abuse prevention." (When ONDCP buys time 
for an ad, the media company must air another message approved by the 
campaign for free.) Through a contract managed by the Ad Council, media 
outlets currently can select from a reel of approved messages that include 
PSAs for after-school and mentoring programs not directly related to drug 

The Ad Council opposes a change in policy. "The way we look at it, keeping 
kids off drugs is more than telling them not to do drugs," said its 
president, Peggy Conlon. "It's giving kids and their parents viable 
programs and something to do so the kids are not hanging out on street 

Some sources familiar with the campaign said the Senate's draft bill, which 
also calls for a General Accounting Office audit of the campaign, is a 
testimony to the Partnership's lobbying effort. If Congress were to pass a 
bill that included all the measures in the Senate's draft, it would be a 
big victory for the Partnership, which has argued that the campaign, now in 
its sixth year, should return to its original vision as a public-private 

Partnership president Stephen Pasierb testified at a House reauthorization 
hearing in March that the campaign veered off-track. "In years three and 
four, the campaign stopped showing effectiveness," he said at the time. 
"Multiple themes were incorporated into the campaign's advertising, 
diluting focus. The campaign changed its target audience .. to younger 
teenagers ... who predominantly do not use illicit drugs. The campaign's 
advertising-approval process grew complex and time-consuming. The majority 
of the campaign's match ... was no longer dedicated to the effort's core 
anti-drug messages."

Fighting for creative control, the Partnership and ONDCP have blamed each 
other for the campaign's mixed results. At press time on Friday, ONDCP 
continued to lobby Hatch's office over the bill, sources said. Hatch's 
office did not return calls.

Sources said the fighting has hurt the campaign's financing. For next 
year's budget, the Senate has proposed spending $100 million on the effort, 
while the House has called for $150 million. Even if the campaign receives 
the higher figure, it will be the lowest spend since the effort began. 
"There is no empirical formula that proves how much is enough," noted Rich 
Hamilton, CEO of Zenith Optimedia Group, Americas, who once worked on the 
campaign. "As long as the pro bono match is retained, $150 million would 
still be quite an effective level. And even if it was $100 million, it 
would still be worth investing in."

The Partnership has argued that more should be spent on the media buys and 
less on other efforts, such as public relations and Internet outreach. But 
some sources argue that ONDCP's evaluations have shown that awareness of 
the campaign is high among parents and teenagers, and that the real issue 
is producing messages that will change behavior. "Spending more is not 
going to have a different effect unless the message is different," said one 
source familiar with the campaign. "And everyone involved is accountable 
for the advertising."
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