HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html White House Takes New Tack in Drug War
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jan 2008
Source: Advertising Age (US)
Copyright: 2008 Crain Communications Inc.
Author: Ira Teinowitz


Super Bowl Spot Cautions Against Prescription-Drug Abuse by Teens

WASHINGTON -- The White House drug office will use its first Super 
Bowl spot in four years to caution that the biggest teen drug danger 
could be the legal medicines stored in parents' medicine chests.

The White House drug office's Super Bowl spot features a drug dealer 
complaining that his business is down because teens are getting high 
from abusing drugs in the medicine cabinet. 	

The spot is part of a 12-week multimedia campaign that for the first 
time switches the focus from teens to their parents, and delivers a 
loud warning that it's no longer just illegal drugs that put teens at risk.

The $14 million push, which will get $28 million in airtime, was 
produced by Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB for the Partnership 
for a Drug-Free America. Draft is the drug office's agency, but the 
creative is produced by a number of agencies.

The Super Bowl spot, to air at the close of the first half, features 
a drug dealer complaining that his business is down because teens are 
getting high from abusing drugs in the medicine cabinet. It ends with 
an announcer saying: "Teens don't need a drug dealer to get high, 
safeguard your prescriptions. Safeguard you teens."

Fox has been asking up to $3 million for a Super Bowl spot. Drug 
office officials declined to say what the government paid, but said 
the spot was purchased well in advance at a good price. Under the 
youth anti-drug program, media companies have to provide a free spot 
of similar media weight for every spot the government buys. Those 
free spots will occur in other Fox programming.

Newspaper ads and a second TV ad will follow, and the drug office is 
also buying ads on bags used by pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs.

Spending on the drug ad program has been declining. Only $60 million 
was authorized by Congress this year, less than half of the $130 
million requested and less than a third of the spending in the 
campaign's early days. The cuts led the drug office to suspend a 
second campaign aimed at parents and influencers and to concentrate 
on teens. National ads are about marijuana and other illegal drugs; 
an anti-methamphetamine campaign also runs in some markets.

"Teen drug abuse has gone down sharply -- marijuana over 26% in the 
last six years," said Thomas A. Riley, a drug office spokesman. "Teen 
meth has gone down too. The only thing that hasn't gone down is 
prescription drug abuse. These ads are intended to shock and surprise 
parents and put this on their radar screen."

Partnership President-CEO Stephen J. Pasierb said household medicine 
abuse is increasingly showing up. "We have done a ton of research and 
prescription drug abuse is an entire new tier of substance abuse. One 
of five kids potentially abused prescription drugs and one in 10 
reported abusing over-the-counter cough medicine," he said. "What we 
see in research is that kids and parents think the drugs safer than 
street drugs. In fact, they are every bit as deadly."

Asked whether the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger, which may 
possibly have been due to an overdose of legal prescription drugs, 
caused the drug office to reconsider the timing of the campaign, a 
drug-office spokesman said it did not.

Regarding the Super Bowl buy, Mr. Pasierb cited the telecast's 
viewership and cachet. "It's a great opportunity to make a national 
impact and particularly with the writers strike, we are losing some 
of marquee events we had."

The latest effort is far tamer than some of the drug office's earlier 
Super Bowl efforts. In one of the most controversial spots, which ran 
five months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, an ad showed a 
shopping list that includes an AK-47 rifle. "Where do terrorists get 
their money?" asked the voice-over. "If you buy drugs, some of it 
might come from you." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake