Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2006
Source: Journal Gazette, The (IN)
Copyright: 2006 The Journal Gazette
Author: Sylvia A. Smith, Washington editor
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)


WASHINGTON - Cut money for the anti-drug advertising campaign, the 
auditors who advise Congress recommended Friday.

The Government Accountability Office said lawmakers should believe a 
$42.7 million study that panned the eight-year-old TV, radio, 
newspaper, magazine and Internet ad campaign.

The government has spent $1.2 billion since 1998 on ads ranging from 
"parents, the anti-drug" to the current "above the influence" series. 
President Bush has asked for $120 million for the program next year. 
A firm hired to evaluate the campaign said the ads were memorable but 
seeing them didn't make kids less likely to use marijuana.

But the drug czar's office and Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, said results 
can't be argued with. Teen drug use is down since the ad campaign 
started, they said.

"Common sense would show a connection," said Thomas Riley, spokesman 
for the Office on National Drug Control Policy.

Souder said it's always difficult to show a direct consequence of advertising.

"It's very difficult to tell whether Britney Spears bopping around on 
some Coca-Cola ad actually sold a single bottle of Coca-Cola," Souder 
said. But "the groups that promote marijuana wouldn't be criticizing 
it so much if they didn't think it was effective."

Souder is the chairman of a subcommittee that oversees the operation 
of the drug czar's office.

Even if the study's criticisms are valid, Riley said, they are outdated.

He said the study was done of the ad program through 2004 and that 
the style and focus of the ads have changed since then.

The "anti-drug" theme wasn't effective with teens, Riley said, 
because they resist the government telling them what to do. So last 
year, the ads directed at young people encourage them to make smart choices.

Advertising in favor of something works better than advertising 
against something, he said.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman