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December 15, 2008 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Anti-drug propaganda is invariably lame, but the latest campaign for Frank, the UK drugs information helpline are actually very clever. Meet Pablo the Drug Mule Dog, Nostril and Baggie.
posted by PeterMcDermott (116 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always wondered why they can't just show kids the not so glamorous side? In my "Just Say No" day the most effective, but stil over the top, anti-drug messages were the real ones. It wasn't "Smokie the tlaking joint" it was the prisoners that came in in their jumpsuits and shackles to tell their sad tales or the "blood on the highway" type programs that made you think drugs could actually be bad in some way.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:11 AM on December 15, 2008


I think most middle class white kids watch those videos and think -- 'That'll never happen to me. Joe Eightball got arrested last year. He had previous arrests but he got probation. That's the worst that could happen to me.'

Kids are also very sensitive to the hypocrisy that's employed in the War on Some Drugs. I think these adverts are much smarter because they play up to precisely the idealistic side of teenagers that is irritated by the hypocrisy displayed in traditional drug propaganda.

They're also very funny. Baggie White is wonderful.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2008


Just say Yeyo!
posted by gman at 6:26 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


now friends, I steer clear of danger
well anyway, at least I try
I've always just said "no" to drugs
that is, the ones that wouldn't get me high
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:27 AM on December 15, 2008


If homosexuality or inter racial marriage were illegal, you could make the same "prisoners in shackles" ads about those things as well. After all, if doing them was criminal, then some people would end up in jail for it.

As far as "blood on the highway" type stuff, that's mostly drunk driving, right? Well, alcohol is legal and lots of people enjoy it responsibly (and lots of people are irresponsible with it too)

The problem with anti-drug ads is that they serve two purposes. One, obviously, they may help convince some people not to use drugs. But two, and more insidiously, they also propagandize people into supporting laws that make drug use illegal.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on December 15, 2008 [13 favorites]


Activating the nucleus accumbens.
posted by netbros at 6:33 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Half-way through, my adrenaline was coursing and I had to stop watching. Exciting advertisements do not make for good anti-drug advertisements to my mind (what do I know, I'm old and I've had all the exciting drugs). Also, cocaine was the most boring, they should have had a Sleepdog.
posted by tellurian at 6:37 AM on December 15, 2008


I never saw a prisoner in shackles type presentation from anyone who was in on simple possesion. They were usually in for murder.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:41 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


i don't think they work, not on people already doing it, it's clearly non-druggie values pretending to be cool and with it. for something to be effective it'd have to empathise with why you want take drugs the first place and then show the devastating results as a consequence of 'once being like you'. the understanding is in sharing the same desire but embodying the results not in using the same cultural references to batter values of drugs=evil in between an episode of skins.
posted by doobiedoo at 6:44 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like that the ads are realistic about the health side-effects of drugs. The idea of a big hole in my nasal septum turns me off from coke way more than a moralistic anti-drug message. I already know I'm a lazy degenerate. That doesn't bother me.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:46 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


This shit doesn't work. The money being wasted on advertising against drug use (we used to just laugh and laugh at that one where the guy snorted his car, his vacation, & cetera, as they turned to powder under his nose.) should really be redirected towards treatment & hospital beds for the afflicted. Decriminalization would also go a fair way towards freeing up wasted money, but I think there's a point at which you have to draw the line. When & where shall it be legal for rednecks to make & consume bathtub crank in their trailers? I support decriminalization for small amounts -- consumption quantities, but while the war on drugs has done little to stem the flow of heroin and cocaine into our country, what do we do about the fact that those drugs, and locally-produced speed are killing people? I'm conflicted there. Maybe decriminalizing small amounts would free up enough resources to A. treat the addicted, and B. put the hammer down on large traffickers.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:52 AM on December 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


on another note who'd have figured the guy off peep show for a cultural snitch, or is david mitchell playing pablo ironically?
posted by doobiedoo at 7:03 AM on December 15, 2008


Anti-drug propaganda is invariably lame

wrong.
posted by krautland at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2008 [12 favorites]


The money being wasted on advertising against drug use (we used to just laugh and laugh at that one where the guy snorted his car, his vacation, & cetera, as they turned to powder under his nose.) should really be redirected towards treatment & hospital beds for the afflicted.

What is it they say though? A gram of prevention is worth a quarter ounce of cure.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:07 AM on December 15, 2008


What is it they say though? A gram of prevention is worth a quarter ounce of cure.

I know that was light-hearted snark, but show me a single person who thought about doing hard drugs, then didn't, based on one of these ad campaigns. They're utterly, completely and hopelessly ineffectual. There hasn't been a gram of prevention in 20 years of these things.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:13 AM on December 15, 2008


I think the only reason I ever took any drugs (including alcohol) as a youngster was on the chance it could make me look cool. Cool enough that someday, at some point down the road, it might help me to get laid.

I can't really imagine a campaign that would have swayed me away from that biological imperative.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:15 AM on December 15, 2008


show me a single person who thought about doing hard drugs, then didn't

We can't say that one way or the other. I know from my own personal experience that I did at least think about certain campaigns when making decisions to use or not use hard drugs. I won't go into here if the campaigns were successful or not in preventing me from using them, but I did at least consder them.

If I at least considered them, then there must certainly have worked on someone out there.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:18 AM on December 15, 2008


Anti-drug propaganda is invariably lame

wrong.


Oh god. Those are...gulp...really terrible. I was never planning on doing meth before, but now I'm really not planning on it. Seriously. I'm also planning on bleaching my eyeballs.
posted by nosila at 7:20 AM on December 15, 2008


While I love these commercials, it's for all the wrong reasons.
posted by gman at 7:20 AM on December 15, 2008


or is david mitchell playing pablo ironically?

I'd say he's playing Pablo hypocritically, given the casual drug use in Peep Show.
posted by mandal at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those commercials are terrible and will be completely ineffective.

krautland's link is to a much better campaign, imo.
posted by Manhasset at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2008


No anti-hard drug commercials, funny, scary, or otherwise will stop a current user. Having said that, krautland's may deter those who are not yet using.
posted by gman at 7:36 AM on December 15, 2008


I completely agree with the earlier poster about small amounts being legal while large trafficers need to get the hammer. It should be legal to brew your own beer and August Busch gets life with no parole.

(Seriously, if you think this through, you'll realize such half-assed legalization will only improve things minimally. Unless you open up the forbidden drugs to large scale trade, the drug war and the criminality associated with it will continue.)
posted by pandaharma at 7:38 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


They're utterly, completely and hopelessly ineffectual.

Except for the "This is your brain on drugs" commercial with the egg in the frying pan. That was solid. I mean, it's your brain, and it's popping and sizzling in a frying pan, and then your going to eat it. Do you really want that?
posted by diogenes at 7:41 AM on December 15, 2008


your = you're. I ate a lot of fried eggs in my youth.
posted by diogenes at 7:42 AM on December 15, 2008


I am not sure that any of these PSAs ever work, but I'm not prepared to say that they flat out don't. I think that the negative ones almost never do--did Reefer Madness ever dissuade anyone from smoking pot? (None of my friends back in the day ever jumped out of a window, or played a piano "faster, faster" because of marihuana). But I am solidly with the camp that says that whatever money is spent on these PSAs is probably better spent at working on the root causes and better access to treatment. Once, these root causes were simple to determine, or we thought so: poverty, unemployment, alienation.

But the most recent statistics I've seen say that usage is higher in suburban and exurban populations than in urban settings, so it can't simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation.

It's probably an unpopular position, but I think making certain classes of drugs legal would lessen the impetus to experiment with the clearly more toxic substances.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2008


I completely agree with the earlier poster about small amounts being legal while large trafficers need to get the hammer.

I've often wondered how this would work. How are small scale distributors and salespeople supposed to get their products without large scale traffickers. We aren't talking about locally grown produce or back yard homegrown here. It takes a heck of a lot of coca leaves and poppy juice to make a few grams of cocaine or heroin and it takes an international shipping cartel to move the stuff, legal or not, from the places of the world where they are produced to the rich markets of the West.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:46 AM on December 15, 2008


Except for the "This is your brain on drugs" commercial with the egg in the frying pan. That was solid. I mean, it's your brain, and it's popping and sizzling in a frying pan, and then your going to eat it. Do you really want that?

Dude, I could totally go for some eggs right now.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:47 AM on December 15, 2008


I'd say he's playing Pablo hypocritically, given the casual drug use in Peep Show.
I'd have said it did a pretty bang-up job of satirising wanky trendy drug culture.
I'm so far from being down with "the kids" I have no idea whether these ads will be effective or not though.
posted by Abiezer at 7:54 AM on December 15, 2008


But the most recent statistics I've seen say that usage is higher in suburban and exurban populations than in urban settings, so it can't simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation.

Really? Because there's an awful lot of poverty in the suburb, more than a little unemployment - especially among younger adults and teens - and the suburbs & exurbs are practically synonymous, in my eyes, with alienation. The utter dependence on cars in these areas massively exacerbates the problems.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:57 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


huh, these maybe me never want to get a dog. Or Watch Peep Show. God I hated that show. Their new one isn't all that good either. God, I hate that other guys face and flustery delivery of every single line. Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Drug Commercials. Cocaine? Not that fun. K?
posted by The Whelk at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


wrong.
posted by krautland at 7:05 AM on December 15


Except that actual research demonstrates that those ads in particular are ineffective and counterproductive.

posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:02 AM on December 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


a single person who thought about doing hard drugs, then didn't, based on one of these ad campaigns

you could have found one possible answer out of at least five campaigns I can think of right now by clicking on the link in my previous comment above.

you obviously don't know all that many psa's (or effective ads in general). making up a lack of knowledge with indignation would be impressive were it not so ignorant and misguided.
posted by krautland at 8:02 AM on December 15, 2008


Because there's an awful lot of poverty in the suburb, more than a little unemployment - especially among younger adults and teens - and the suburbs & exurbs are practically synonymous, in my eyes, with alienation.

Yes, if you want to see evidence of poverty, unemployment and alienation, just go to one of the many trailer parks located in suburbs across the US.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2008


Except that actual research demonstrates that those ads in particular are ineffective and counterproductive.

On the topic of self-defeating PSAs: Aphex Twin, my anti-drug.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Drugs are fine now; Super Hans relaxes.


But the most recent statistics I've seen say that usage is higher in suburban and exurban populations than in urban settings, so it can't simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation.


There's also that pesky "fun" thing. Oh, and being bored.
posted by mandal at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Except that actual research demonstrates that those ads in particular are ineffective and counterproductive.

I know that study intimately. that research they quoted was a focus group consisting of twelve paid members of the public. go figure.

it was also based on a misconception. while the images are graphic, the aim was not to shock, yet that was what the researches thought must have been the main idea. the meth campaign aimed to challenge the notion kids had that they could do meth without anyone noticing. the predominant opinion was that parents, teachers and especially their friends would not know they smoked a little meth. meth was not seen as a hard drug but often mistakenly thought of as comparable to pot. this turned out to be how a lot of them got suckered into hardcore addictions and this was what the campaign sought to address.

upon checking into what the average moderate to heavy user could expect it became clear that the effects in themselves would be severe and potentially shocking. while shooting visuals that would command attention the brief was clear not to artificially dial-up for the sake of shock. doing so runs the risk of removing the message from reality. it's sort of like watching a michael bay movie - if the hero jumps through an exploding supertanker only to be hunted by a plane only to run through an exploding skyscraper you eventually find yourself so far removed from reality that you remember while watching the movie that it's just a film, that this would never happen in real life, that you shouldn't have to worry about this. the meth project's aim was to make kids worry about these things happening to them. it was about fear, not gore.

there were executions that never saw the light of day because they were really disturbing - more so than the teeth ad, which seems to be the one people react to most violently, though the jail cell does it, too (this was the first execution that went live). it was felt that the most shocking visuals you never saw distracted from the message, so they were shelved.
posted by krautland at 8:17 AM on December 15, 2008 [9 favorites]


But the most recent statistics I've seen say that usage is higher in suburban and exurban populations than in urban settings, so it can't simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation.

the way I understand it is this: the more rural and white a young person is, the more likely it is that it's meth over another hard drug. the more urban, the higher the likelihood that it's rock cocaine.
posted by krautland at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2008


most of the reason I didn't do drugs in high school was a talk my parents gave me, which was something like "it's not that drugs are entirely bad, but they're illegal, and you're such a total fuck-up that you'll invariably get caught and sent to jail, and we can't have that, can we?"
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:23 AM on December 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm once again guilty of shitty grammar in a previous post. I blame my sleep depravation and say mea culpa.
posted by krautland at 8:26 AM on December 15, 2008


I don't know if I prefer my propoganda with smug hipness mixed with irony, or my ironic smugness to be hip, or my hipness to be ironically smugged hipstericalonically. What I know is that I totally want more coke, and life sucks without it and these COMMERCIALS aren't helping, please turn the TV off and unsubscribe me from google. Metafilter: unsubscribe me from hip sumgsterism propogandironical shit I can't wait for the dealer to CALL BACK already OK what's the next post?
posted by not_on_display at 8:29 AM on December 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


I know that study intimately. that research they quoted was a focus group consisting of twelve paid members of the public. go figure.

Are you saying that the critical review in Prevention Science is bad or that MMP's methodology was bad? Because all the evidence seems to point to the latter, as is typically the case when governmental fear-based propaganda is hailed as a great new technique no matter how often it fails.

And why does it fail? Because it's a lie, and because teenagers aren't completely retarded, no matter how much the prohibitionists want to believe it.

Rather than saying "if you try [meth/weed/coke/acid] once you will immediately become a dead junkie prostitute," why not say "look, we know that coke is awesome as heck and that weed is pretty fun, but eventually it will probably have bad consequences. In the case of weed, probably not even that, unless you get busted, and even then, it's not the weed so much as it is the fact that weed is illegal. You know what? Stick to weed, amigos."

You don't have to lie to influence people's decisions.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:29 AM on December 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


How are small scale distributors and salespeople supposed to get their products without large scale traffickers. We aren't talking about locally grown produce or back yard homegrown here.

I think people making that argument are often thinking specifically of marijuana.
posted by EarBucket at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2008


But the most recent statistics I've seen say that usage is higher in suburban and exurban populations than in urban settings, so it can't simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation.

Really? Because there's an awful lot of poverty in the suburb, more than a little unemployment - especially among younger adults and teens - and the suburbs & exurbs are practically synonymous, in my eyes, with alienation. The utter dependence on cars in these areas massively exacerbates the problems.


Yes, exactly. Unemployment, poverty and alienation are also quite present in rural, sub-and exurban settings. But--and I am not looking up facts here, but believe I am correct--unemployment is greater, and poverty affects a greater percentage of urban residents, so it cannot simply be those factors that lead youth to experiment with drugs.

My contention--not stated earlier--is that youth want to experiment with altered states of consciousness. They are told from birth by many parents that the path to this "higher consciousness" is through religion. I went through 12 to 14 seasons of my life hearing this contention from the local representatives of a major brand of Christianity, but never reached any transcendental states, and the literature of my church was filled with examples of people reaching these beatific states through martyrdom, often stoning.

So, when, as a 15 year old, a friend snuck hashish into my snickers bar and said, prophetically, "let's go get stoned," I had a new appreciation for those 1st and 2nd century martyrs.

It wasn't too much later that I figured that these altered states didn't really offer much in the way of breakthrough revelations that I realized I was better off without either of those anti-reality inducements, Church and Drugs.

But one thing that did stick with me: when I was in high school, I devoured everything in our school library that had anything to do with illicit drug use, from the expository (DeQuincey's Opium Eaters), humorous (Margolis & Clorfene's A Child's Garden of Grass), to the psychology of drug use. I can't remember the author, but one psychologist broke down drug user's profiles (this was 1969 or so) into two categories: experience seekers and oblivion seekers.

I think that holds--though there are of course no black & white definitions, no absolutes. I know that when I experimented with drugs, I was seeking experiences that I thought I could gain through those gateways. Certainly there were enough apostles spreading that gospel in the 60s and 70s. Where others "saw god" I saw terribly amusing cartoon tableaux that I only wish I could have drawn & immortalized, but truth be told, I would probably have been plagiarizing Skip Williamson. And as I grew and aged, I realized that there was surely a bit of oblivion seeking in a sip or two of single malt or a couple of cold beers.

In my life, I've lost more friends to the ravages of alcohol than to any other drug. And I do not mean to minimize the dangers and horrors of meth, but I think that these anti-drug PSAs do far less to help than perhaps working for an enlightened culture that realizes that a zero tolerance policy on drugs/alcohol/sex is antithetical to human nature and counterproductive to a healthy functioning society.

To recap: the root causes of drug use and abuse cannot simply be poverty, unemployment, and alienation, and the cures cannot simply be a shaking fist saying "You Better Not!"

As far as the OP: I did not find these PSAs clever, witty, or particularly persuasive. Nor the Montana meth ads.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


How are small scale distributors and salespeople supposed to get their products without large scale traffickers. We aren't talking about locally grown produce or back yard homegrown here.

I think people making that argument are often thinking specifically of marijuana.


Often, yes, but in this instance the original post was talking about harder stuff:

I support decriminalization for small amounts -- consumption quantities, but while the war on drugs has done little to stem the flow of heroin and cocaine into our country, what do we do about the fact that those drugs, and locally-produced speed are killing people?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2008


I think part of the problem with the scare tactic approach is that burgeoning young drug addict types find explicit images of hard drug use to be secretly alluring.
posted by The Straightener at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Further on the Montana Meth Project, why don't you check out some commercials directed by Darren Aronofsky? A good friend of mine is one of the kids in the Family ad.

Still, as much as I like my friend and Darren Aronofsky both, I doubt the effectiveness of these campaigns. Another good friend of mine saw Requiem For A Dream in the theaters four times, high each time. Danger is part of the appeal for illegal drugs, which is why so many supposedly anti-drug campaigns or stories are either campy or artistically exhilarating.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2008


They're utterly, completely and hopelessly ineffectual.

(We) are not the target audience. We are already cynical. Propaganda works best on the young. My kids have been recently noticing the "No Stank You" anti-smoking ads and are horrified and baffled by why anyone would "smoke". They are not even teenagers. The trick with propaganda is to get them before something "seems" cool or someone is "informed" about a subject - I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that you & I are not the target audience for these...
posted by jkaczor at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2008


I've often wondered how this would work.

Read the below stuff, think about the amount of money and ask yourself - would YOU have the strength to not do the stuff mentioned for that kinda money?

Wikipedia
CIA, Contras and Drugs
Mrs. Fitts and the red button story
More

And finally - From Lyndon LaRouche
Grasso and FARC leader
posted by rough ashlar at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


What those commercials do is make (vain, silly) people who might casually try meth or coke not try them. As much as I believe in drug legalization I do think it's a fine idea to broadcast the ugly facts of addiction to morons (like me) who care a lot more about keeping their noses intact that not dying. The only anti-smoking commercials that work on me for instance are the ones with people with horrible faceholes, not blackened hearts. My heart is already black from all the demonic possession thank you very much!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2008


Being able to create an effective public health PSA is an exercise in empathy. Without properly understanding the values of your target audience and their perception of the various media sources, you end up with campaigns which only appear to make sense:
- You will get cancer if you smoke, so don't smoke.
- Pot makes you a lazy couch potato, so don't smoke pot.
- Sex ought to wait until you're married, so don't start fucking 'till later.
These messages completely ignore the values of their target audiences. They're too focused on what are essentially intangible values for teens-- the ads may as well have been written in Dutch. The next generation of campaigns was a little more on point:
- Smoking makes you impotent and foul-smelling, so don't smoke.
- Pot impairs your ability to function socially, making you less attractive, so don't smoke pot.
- Chlamydia epidemic. Wrap it.
The messages were closer to the short-sighted hedonic values of teens, so they worked a little better. At least the agencies were speaking a similar language-- they appealed to the three main questions of adolescence (Am I normal? Am I liked? Am I loved?). It even worked a little: (high school sex went down between 1991 and 2001; cigarette smoking down; pot's up from the '90s but down from its high point in '79).

Once you've got the right message, the problem is normalization. The best example here is drunk driving: 18 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million miles traveled more recently. This represents a fundamental change in societal norms, and it took decades. How to affect this same change in drugs and unsafe sex is beyond my ken. All I know is that it's going to take a long time and busloads of behavioral psych/ad men.
posted by The White Hat at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2008


(We) are not the target audience. We are already cynical. Propaganda works best on the young. My kids have been recently noticing the "No Stank You" anti-smoking ads and are horrified and baffled by why anyone would "smoke". They are not even teenagers. The trick with propaganda is to get them before something "seems" cool or someone is "informed" about a subject - I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that you & I are not the target audience for these...

See, when I was, say, 9, I saw the propaganda, thought "ugh, why would anybody want that." Then I got older, and learned that cool people smoke, and cool people use pot and other drugs; I also quickly learned that the propaganda had been flat-out lying to me, which made me discount the entire message, even the parts that may have been useful. Turns out pot isn't horribly addictive and won't magically lead to a horrible crack habit... so what else might be bullshit?
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


18 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million miles traveled more recently. This represents a fundamental change in societal norms, and it took decades.

Except that cars were insanely dangerous death machines until fairly recently. Before air bags, safety glass, crumple zones, seat belts, or even dashboards designed not to impale people, you could easily die in a minor collision. I think Unsafe At Any Speed had a lot more to do with lowering that particular statistic than anything related to driking.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


would YOU have the strength to not do the stuff mentioned for that kinda money?

Me, sure. My cousin (who I posted about before but are too lazy to link back to) who sold his agricultural equipment business for over $100 million in order to retire and relax and was upset at himself afterwards because he could have made a million or two more on the deal, not so much I'm afraid.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:11 AM on December 15, 2008


Meanwhile, another perspective
posted by waraw at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


SLOMMING RULES.
posted by generalist at 9:48 AM on December 15, 2008


making up a lack of knowledge with indignation would be impressive were it not so ignorant and misguided.
posted by krautland


I'm probably ignotrant and misguided, because I'm not an ad executive-- I print t-shirts all day for a living and graduated high school with a C- average, but here's what I see:

You posted a single link to a single campaign, after my post by the way, which I just perused, and found one set of statistics in the comments, pulled out of some anonymous person's butt: "“The group was founded by billionaire Thomas Siebel and has had great success. Since the campaign was started teen meth use is down 45% and adult meth use has fallen by 72%. Other states with meth problems have begun running the ads, including Arizona and Illinois.”"

It's an incredibly graphic campaign, but that's statistical cherry-picking, at best. I really, really hope they did some good, but who knows what other factors might have contributed to the noted decline in meth use in Montana? The thing that's done the most good here in Texas in moving the Pseudoephedrine-based decongestants behind the counter, and strictly monitoring their sale.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2008


Heh - I'm also ignorant. Why didn't spell-checker catch that one? It hated Pseudoephedrine.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2008


My kids have been recently noticing the "No Stank You" anti-smoking ads and are horrified and baffled by why anyone would "smoke".

They are most likely also horrified and baffled by why anyone would have sex. Doesn't mean shit.
posted by limon at 9:57 AM on December 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Why don't we just jump on the euro train and bankrupt the hard drug dealers by taking away their customers.
posted by Suparnova at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jon_Evil : most of the reason I didn't do drugs in high school was a talk my parents gave me, which was something like "it's not that drugs are entirely bad, but they're illegal, and you're such a total fuck-up that you'll invariably get caught and sent to jail, and we can't have that, can we?"

Heh. I had almost the same talk with my mom. She added in the point that some drugs (pot) are awesome, but they also make you want to just hang out and not get shit done, and that I was already really good at that, and thus, needed no help, so I better not touch the stuff until I was old enough and had accomplished myself to the point where I had earned it.

It was an interesting approach that worked remarkably well.
posted by quin at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2008


They are most likely also horrified and baffled by why anyone would have sex. Doesn't mean shit.

Don't tell me you are one of those people that doesn't believe in cooties?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:25 AM on December 15, 2008


We aren't talking about locally grown produce or back yard homegrown here. It takes a heck of a lot of coca leaves and poppy juice to make a few grams of cocaine or heroin and it takes an international shipping cartel to move the stuff, legal or not, from the places of the world where they are produced to the rich markets of the West.

The main difference I was attempting to strike somehow here, is between the victim (addicted end-user, in the process of having his or her life flushed down the drain) and the perpetrator -- the people who knowingly profit from these addictions. Don't tell me that these predators will just vanish if we legalize all drug use. They'll move on to other methods of victimizing the vulnerable. (And no, I'm not talking about pot, which is a generally innocuous drug, which if the FDA were smart, would be studying the medicinal uses of, just as we did with the Opium poppy.)

Removing the profit motive is a generally noble idea, and maybe I'm showing my ignorance again, but how the hell do you pull that off with heroin and cocaine? I mean realistically, not best-case on-paper "it should work like this." I can't see it coming to pass in the USA in our lifetimes, so lets look at doing things that are realistically possible to accomplish to lessen the suffering of addicts.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:54 AM on December 15, 2008


If someone is pre-disposed to become an addict (either by biology or life experience), no ad on earth will stop them from trying whatever. I saw all the anti-drug ads and listened to all the classroom lectures growing up and I still tried just about everything. Oftentimes, it just made me even more curious.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on December 15, 2008


For all the accolades heaped on the Montana anti-Meth ads, they've proven to have the opposite effect:

"Claims that the campaign is effective are not supported by data. The campaign has been associated with increases in the acceptability of using methamphetamine and decreases in the perceived danger of using drugs. These and other negative findings have been ignored and misrepresented by the MMP. There is no evidence that reductions in methamphetamine use in Montana are caused by the advertising campaign. On the basis of current evidence, continued public funding and rollout of Montana-style methamphetamine programs is inadvisable."
posted by vanadium at 11:05 AM on December 15, 2008


This handy chart should be the basis for educating the public on the responsible use of mind-altering substances. Call me when there are PSAs which tell you to switch from alcohol to a less harmful recreational drug like MDMA.
posted by mullingitover at 11:19 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Agreed, these propaganda pieces were not that amusing. America's Above The Influence ads are much more amusing, to the point that they inspire idle joking speculation about undercover stoners infiltrating the ONDCP to plant absurdities. For example there's the one where the stoner kid burns his guitar, and not in an awesome Jimi Hendrix way but in a sad "Marijuana has destroyed my music" way. Everyone knows marijuana and musicianship are completely incompatible. And IF YOU SMOKE POT AN ALIEN WILL STEAL YOUR GIRLFRIEND.

though the jail cell does it, too

Fuck that. Creepy prison rape threats? Way to go.

As for the effectiveness of anti-drug propaganda efforts, they had one effect on me. In 4th or 5th grade like everyone else I sat through DARE. It was mostly in one ear and out the other, but there was the part where they described the effects of a few drugs with a variety of truths and lies. Still mostly didn't care, except when they got to LSD. DARE was quite effective in making 10-11 year old me decide then and there that I was getting my hands on some acid when I grew up. There was even a bit of disappointment, as I specifically remember DARE promising me awesome synesthesia that, while reported by some, seems uncommon with the traditional psychedelics. Overall, though, stuff's even better than DARE said.
posted by Sockpuppet For Naughty Things at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2008


I also quickly learned that the propaganda had been flat-out lying to me, which made me discount the entire message, even the parts that may have been useful.

THIS. This is totally my experience, and a lot of the rest of my generation. Our drug propaganda was shit like this, just total laughable crap. Couple that with the natural teenage inclination to believe that adults are always lying to you, and the message you get is that NO controlled substance can POSSIBLY be as harmful as they say it is. It wasn't until I saw and experienced the darker side of the harder stuff myself that I learned that certain drugs can put you in a pretty bad place if you're irresponsible with them.

Even with "hard" drugs, though, occasional use will not turn you into a craven junkie. There are probably people you know that are using coke or heroin or meth or whatever occasionally while still holding down jobs and being responsible adults, and you'd never know unless they told you. Fuck, the entire financial/political elite is fueled by premium Scotch whisky and industrial strength prescription opiates.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:35 AM on December 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


A sense a lot of disdain here in these comments. I'm sure there are a lot of people in this thread that can certainly handle themselves when it comes to any substance. For that, kudos.

I see a lot of comments from people who have never or seldom wound up on the wrong side of that line. The winners and loser line.

Lest anything terrible happen to you or to someone you hold dear.

Even if one stupid ad keeps somebody from dying, I say thank you.
posted by captainsohler at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2008


And IF YOU SMOKE POT AN ALIEN WILL STEAL YOUR GIRLFRIEND

Zaphod, no!
posted by kid ichorous at 11:52 AM on December 15, 2008


My favorite drug PSA .

It attempts to correct the ridiculousness of the DARE shock ads, but all it does is make a case for legalization.
posted by Suparnova at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2008


Devils Rancher: Don't tell me that these predators will just vanish if we legalize all drug use. They'll move on to other methods of victimizing the vulnerable

Most of these predators, I think, don't want to victimize the vulnerable; they want to make money. Legalization will entail a redistribution of the target activity for current drug criminals. But given that drug-taking is a regular consumption activity and a typically inelastic one at that for addicts means that drug trafficking is what's most lucrative for these predators. They can only move on to less lucrative targets. Guns are a narrow market. Pharmaceutical diversion of the newly-legalized drugs may support a small-to-moderate grey market if the regulatory regime post-prohibition retains puritanical impulses (admittedly a possibility). Property crime will probably increase, except that the recipient is unwilling, unlike in a drug deal, and has no mutual incentive to cultivate a cordial relationship with the former drug criminal. So post legalization, drug dealers won't vanish, but the universe, AFAIK, doesn't follow the law of conservation of serious crime.

As for lessening the suffering of addicts, only limited steps can be taken within the confines of prohibition. That's because the base of drugs policy is the implementation of political attitudes regarding drugs and drug users. Some harm reduction measures can be wrapped up in guises amenable to prohibitionists and layered on, and others can't. Take the case of heroin maintenance, practiced in various countries in Europe where severe addicts are given heroin by the government in a controlled fashion. Result: huge cuts in crime and improvement of personal health. The pragmatic Swiss public recently voted to make their 14-year long program now permanent. But it wouldn't receive serious political consideration in the US.
posted by daksya at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


But it wouldn't receive serious political consideration in the US.

Herein lies the rub. What would? I'm for a pragmatic approach of doing the achievable, like channeling small-time users towards treatment centers instead of jails, and keeping their criminal records clean, so that should that recover, they can have a reasonable chance at re-entering society without the stigma of a conviction & incarceration. It's just possible that something along those lines might be politically achievable within our lifetimes. I'm talking specifically about the USA, of course. I don't pretend to know anything about drug laws outside our borders, except you really, really don't want to get busted in some third-world countries, like Thailand.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2008


Should THEY recover. Someday, I'll recover enough to type. Damn.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2008


Look, the only way I won't do crack is if Pee Wee Herman tells me it's bad.
posted by ALongDecember at 12:45 PM on December 15, 2008


But given that drug-taking is a regular consumption activity and a typically inelastic one at that for addicts means that drug trafficking is what's most lucrative for these predators.

I think the Blue Magic story of the 70's has shown that drug sales are not as inelastic as people think. Lucas was able to eliminate the competition by offering more for less in much the same way that Wal-Mart undercuts competition in small towns by converting big volume wholesale discounts into retail discounts for customers (even if it means the customers destroy themselves faster). With that said, the more you victimize or the more zombifying the product you sling the less likely and less able your customers are to move to a competitor's corner and therfore the more inelastic demand gets (strangely also like Wal-mart). In that case controlling territory becomes the factor in sales.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:55 PM on December 15, 2008


Removing the profit motive is a generally noble idea, and maybe I'm showing my ignorance again, but how the hell do you pull that off with heroin and cocaine?

You don't, just like we haven't for alcohol, which is an incredibly destructive drug for some people. Tax, regulate, and use some not-insignificant portion of taxes/profits for treatment and education. Alcohol companies still make a profit, and they still push their product in vulnerable communities or to a not-yet-legal-to-consume-it base. As you said, there will always be predators. We've just made some of them legal now.
posted by rtha at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2008


Look, the only way I won't do crack is if Pee Wee Herman tells me it's bad.

That ad is even funnier when you take into account that one of the earliest appearances of the Pee Wee character was in Cheech & Chong's Next Movie, and Reubens plays a coke-hoovering maniac in Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams. So the guy telling you "don't do drugs" was in not one, but two Cheech & Chong movies.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2008


Also, I seem to recall seeing a video mashup of the anti-crack ad, the Hamburger Dude, and the Timothy Leary sequence from Nice Dreams. It's probably in the related videos sidebar.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2008


Herein lies the rub. What would? I'm for a pragmatic approach of doing the achievable

It's a delicate task. I think you underestimate the viability of the legalization effort in the long run (~20 years). The DEA put out a pamphlet advising on how to speak out against drug legalization. If it were as pie in the sky as you think, there'd be no need. Roughly 40-45% of the US public support pot legalization and a third or slightly more of that support full legalization. Of course, these surveys don't specify the details of what exactly the term "legalization" are, but they are still a good barometer of the fuzzy dispositions within the public-at-large. There is a danger that in concentrating on short-term feasibility, one will miss out on the true possibility of legalization 20 odd years hence, and stall it even further. It's a waiting game. Much of what is possible in the immediate future is already being advocated for by organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance, but the key changes needed are structural. Of course, some disagree, and think prohibition in the US can be tweaked to produce near-optimum policy.
posted by daksya at 1:08 PM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know that study intimately. that research they quoted was a focus group consisting of twelve paid members of the public. go figure.

krautland, do you have a cite for the above? Because it's really interesting, if true.
posted by mediareport at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2008


Even if one stupid ad keeps somebody from dying, I say thank you.

And I thank you for proving to me that I was right in staying out of this thread. I don't have a blood pressure problem and I intend to keep it that way.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:54 PM on December 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Even if one stupid ad keeps somebody from dying, I say thank you.

But it goes both ways. That ad may help keep ridiculous drug laws in place that harm far, far more people than that hypothetical one person.

Obviously this is a difficult thing to quantify, so I can't say "it prevents X deaths but results in Y needless incarnerations, of which Z people become hardcore criminals after spending time in jail."

I do know it's not necessarily a positive influence, however, as the drug ads do real harm to real people who otherwise would not be harmed by their drug use.

And I'm sure they also do help some people who would otherwise be harmed by their drug use. Although I think focusing on education about drugs and letting people make their own choices is better than demonizing, and it's a rare drug ad that doesn't fall into the latter (or rely on ridiculous hyperbole -- more examples of this than I could possibly mention, or that posits that all users are going to be washed-out addicts, etc).
posted by wildcrdj at 5:22 PM on December 15, 2008


Nthing comparison to the dangers of alcohol for self, family and stranger on the road. As for school PSAs, ones about cigarettes were far scarier to me as a kid: dissected lungs, and warning from the dying smoker with a synthesized voice... *shudder* An uncle of mine survived two hard tours of 'Nam but died of lung cancer a few months ago, way too young for a 'natural' death. Legal substances can be plenty dangerous, while some illegal activities are probably pretty harmless. Heck, Obama has talked about drug use in his youth, and I enjoyed the humorous take on pot in Saving Grace (2000).

Part of the reason I've stayed away from hallucinogens is because I had a lot of high fevers as a child, and I mean a LOT. The earliest I remember was age 3, feeling pretty amazed at how the shadows from my night light looked like a space ship, then wondering, in a detached way, why my mom was plunging me into the bath while I was wearking socks? (Adult answer: to lower a way-too-high fever). By the time I was 7 or 8, I was all, 'Whooooah, my bedside table is soooo far away' or 'wow, I could touch the other side of the room'. In other words, I relate to Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. But I also had some bad trips as a kid that scared me, and I've never been tempted to see what might be lurking in my brain. 'Regular' dreams can be freaky enough.

A medieval author observed that water and fire can be harmless, helpful or hurtful depending on how they're used. You don't outlaw water because someone drowns, nor do you ban fire because someone could get burned. Yes, there are regulations about enclosed pools in Florida for instance and ordinances against fireworks in many localities. I'm definitely in favor of saving lives, but the other side of the balance holds personal responsibility.
posted by woodway at 5:25 PM on December 15, 2008


Of course, we really need are PSAs for Buzzwinkle and other moose who enjoy their tipple a little too much.
posted by woodway at 5:27 PM on December 15, 2008


I think the very first Youtube comment says all you need to know about Pablo the drug mule dog:


"who ever made this add was on fucking coke !! i love it so much , i think i might just go buy some coke so my dog will talk to me"

posted by metaxa at 5:34 PM on December 15, 2008


The only anti-drug education I've seen have a meaningful impact is when people begin to talk about the secondary effects of the drugs in the places where they are produced or wholesaled. When you've seen the after effects of a big pot grow in a national forest, had your neighbors pot-guarding pitbulls get loose and attack your family or dealt with living in a neighborhood ruined by local despots then might you start to rethink your part in the whole mess.
posted by fshgrl at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Won't work, because self-medicating with drugs is an evolutionary tactic that started long before man became homo sapiens. Good luck trying to stop the results of natural selection with an advertising campaign.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:29 PM on December 15, 2008


Are you saying that the critical review in Prevention Science is bad or that MMP's methodology was bad?

as blaspheme as it may sound - yes, I am actually saying prevention science was mistaken because they assumed the campaign to be about fear and shock. the montana meth project campaign is not about either. it's about reality, about highlighting actual outcomes a user not only may but is likely to face. there is no lie here and there is no misleading propaganda either.

once you will immediately become
it is not saying that. how about actually taking a look at the campaign or my words before suggesting I do?

coke is awesome as heck and that weed is pretty fun, but eventually
tried a million times. nobody cares. that is an absolutely ineffectual approach.

don't have to lie to influence people's decisions
correct. MMP did not lie.

because I'm not an ad executive
neither am I. I'm a creative. haven't worn a tie my whole life.

but that's statistical cherry-picking, at best
yeah, the suits love doing that kind of thing. I only care about the creative output and whether it works.

In 4th or 5th grade like everyone else I sat through DARE.
shit, so did I. that sucked. that had nothing to do with MMP. that kind of work was the reason this went off into another direction.

I may have missed half of the posts I should have addressed. this thread is getting way too long way too fast.
posted by krautland at 8:04 PM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that the reason I did LSD as soon as I could get my teenaged hands on it was because DARE made it sound so fucking awesome.

Also, those commercials made me want to go buy some coke, and I don't even like coke.
posted by empath at 11:29 PM on December 15, 2008


how about actually taking a look at the campaign or my words before suggesting I do?

I'm very familiar with the campaign. I lived in Arizona, where they used the core elements of the MMP, including the endless billboards of suspiciously Calvin Klein-y models made up in low-rent horror movie stages of decay. And it consistently ignores the reality of meth usage. Frankly, not everyone who uses meth winds up like that; most meth users don't. And people know this, and it becomes just another in the long list of lies that anti-drug crusaders turn to because they know that in the real world, the main drawbacks of illegal narcotics are predicated on the fact not that they're dangerous, but that they're illegal.

Most people whose lives are ruined by drugs are ruined because law enforcement gets involved. They lose their jobs and their freedom because of prohibition, because of the criminal justice system, not because they use drugs. Hell, the MMP itself says as much. The "romantic night" billboard says "if you get caught with drugs we will put you in a cell where you will be raped."

Fucking disgusting.

Look, I'm not a drug user. Like most Americans, I used recreational drugs in my youth, but then I found better ways, in my opinion, to spend my money and my time. I hold down a good job, pay my rent on time, pay taxes, vote, everything a good citizen is supposed to do. But if I had been caught possessing drugs? Well, I'd have a criminal record, a much shittier job, maybe HIV from the prison rape that MMP was hoping I'd be a victim of.

So please, pardon me if I don't find the campaign, or the goal, all that worthwhile.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:33 AM on December 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


suspiciously Calvin Klein-y models
wow. did you just compare these SAG-rate kids to marky mark et all? that made my day.

Most people whose lives are ruined by drugs are ruined because law enforcement gets involved.
that's sort of like saying Most traffic accidents happen because cars have tires.

The "romantic night" billboard says "if you get caught with drugs we will put you in a cell where you will be raped."
no, it does not. that's just what you think it says or what you would like to accuse it of saying. but that is your interpretation. it's akin to saying "I think he's not trustworthy because of his nose."

I don't find the campaign, or the goal, all that worthwhile.
this sounds to me like you're advocating letting people use drugs because if we ignore it they won't get into any kind of trouble, be it with the cops or anything else. I'm sure you don't mean that because that would be stupid to say.
posted by krautland at 6:19 AM on December 16, 2008


wow. did you just compare these SAG-rate kids to marky mark et all? that made my day.

I did. They're very good looking without the monster make-up, no doubt.

that's sort of like saying Most traffic accidents happen because cars have tires.

what

no, it does not. that's just what you think it says or what you would like to accuse it of saying. but that is your interpretation. it's akin to saying "I think he's not trustworthy because of his nose."

Please. You're being obtuse. You know as well as I do that the billboard in question is a threat. "If you use meth, you will be arrested. If you are arrested, you will wind up in a prison cell. You will probably be raped in this prison cell."

If you have any other explanation of what that billboard is supposed to say, I'd love to hear it.

this sounds to me like you're advocating letting people use drugs because if we ignore it they won't get into any kind of trouble, be it with the cops or anything else. I'm sure you don't mean that because that would be stupid to say.

I don't advocate "letting people use drugs." I advocate that any adult be allowed to do whatever the hell they want without governmental interference so long as they do not infringe on the rights of anyone else. If they drive impaired on drugs or alcohol, if they rob, rape, or murder, then they should be tried for those offenses. But drug use, in and of itself, should not be a crime.

Look at the actual results of marijuana usage. Most people who use marijuana smoke a joint and watch TV, play a game, talk with friends, or stare mindlessly into the middle distance. It's certainly not dangerous in and of itself, and it is without a doubt far less dangerous than alcohol. Yet being caught with marijuana by a law enforcement officer is, in most American states, a one-way ticket to a steep fine or prison time. How many people do you know who will get their jobs back after a few weeks in prison? I wouldn't. You probably wouldn't. Most people wouldn't. The most dangerous aspect of most drug usage is the penalty for being caught possessing, not the actual effects of the drug.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:55 AM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


The most dangerous aspect of most drug usage is the penalty for being caught possessing, not the actual effects of the drug.

That's certainly true for pot (though getting in a car wreck is probably a pretty big second there, right before burning yourself with a lighter/hot bowl, and ruining your rug with bong water). But I'm not sure how completely true that is for the true nasties out there (I'm talking crack, trailer meth, baggie full of gold paint [legal], veternary pharmeceuticals [legal for animals], industrial chemicals [legal], things humans really shouldn't put into their bodies even if it does feel really fucking good for a couple of seconds/minutes/hours). The number of people arrested vs. the number of users compared to the number of people turned into scab-picking wastoids and drooling imbeciles would be an interesting study. There are definitely long-term side effects of heavy, hard drug use and the number of users far outweigh the number of arrested or else it wouldn't be profitable.

Of course recovering from addiction can be easier than recovering from a prison stretch.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:14 AM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those are funny and slightly more realistic ads but I can't see how they'd be very effective.

I'm not even sure how the Baggie one is anti-drug. He's a charmingly freaky bag of coke. I would say "it's baggie lovin' time, baby!" all of the time if I did coke.
posted by frenetic at 8:06 AM on December 16, 2008


I would say "it's baggie lovin' time, baby!" all of the time if I did coke.

I'm pretty sure that any cokehead would. It's just the annoying sort of catchphrase that a cokehead would repeat endlessly until you want to punch them.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:09 AM on December 16, 2008


It's like they say: "Peed Skills, err, wait, Skeed Hills. No, um, Tweed Fills. No. Speed Kills?"
posted by Goofyy at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2008


Those are funny and slightly more realistic ads but I can't see how they'd be very effective.

FWIW, I wasn't seeking to claim they'd be effective. About fifteen years ago, the British government commissioned a rigorous review of the international evidence on drug prevention materials. That review found, not surprisingly, that there was no evidence that *any* of it was effective.

The point of these campaigns is really to give people who might have drug problems a first point of contact into services via the whole Talk to Frank thing.

As for whether they're funny or not, well, that's kinda subjective. But they're a damn sight funnier than anything else I've seen. David Mitchell does the voice overs, ferchristsake.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:41 PM on December 16, 2008


Most people whose lives are ruined by drugs are ruined because law enforcement gets involved.

that's sort of like saying Most traffic accidents happen because cars have tires.


No, it's actually a fair point. There is a certain cost incurred by the prohibition of drugs, much like by the prohibition of alcohol: expanded police powers, crowded prisons, and, most importantly, the formation of criminal syndicates around the artificial scarcity of contraband. It's no secret that US street and prison gangs are largely funded through the drug trade, and, just like the prohibition-era mafia, take their disputes to the streets and to the mattresses rather than to the courtroom. Striking down drug prohibitions would cut into both the profits and the violence incidental to gang activity. And, with the reduction in gang activity, we could divert our annual forty billion dollar war chest to something perhaps more efficacious than war: treatment, counseling, education. Hell, if you like PSAs, even a fraction of what we spend on paramilitarized no-knock SWAT nonsense would buy you round-the-clock PSAs on every major station.

Ultimately, it's a question of the relative costs to society of prohibition versus permission. Yes, police (and gangsters!) tend to favor prohibition, but, then, they've a lot of money riding on that status quo.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:37 PM on December 16, 2008


You know as well as I do that the billboard in question is a threat.
actually I know that particular billboard better than you. it is not a threat. you just claimed that on your own.

If you have any other explanation of what that billboard is supposed to say, I'd love to hear it.
read it. it's a fairly short sentence. anything not in it that you might take from it is your opinion.

whatever the hell they want without governmental interference so long as they do not infringe on the rights of anyone else
yeah, but the libertarians are a fringe group and the tinfoil brigade does not rule. too bad.

But drug use, in and of itself, should not be a crime.
write your congressman. that's a different issue than this campaign.

The most dangerous aspect of most drug usage is the penalty for being caught possessing, not the actual effects of the drug.
bullshit. absolute bullshit. the only possible drug you could make this argument for is pot and even then I'd like you to meet my schizophrenic, paranoid and frighteningly unstable little brother.
posted by krautland at 2:00 AM on December 17, 2008


The most dangerous aspect of most drug usage is the penalty for being caught possessing, not the actual effects of the drug.

bullshit. absolute bullshit. the only possible drug you could make this argument for is pot and even then I'd like you to meet my schizophrenic, paranoid and frighteningly unstable little brother.


Are you seriously arguing that taking a dose of DMT or LSD is riskier than a stint in prison?
posted by kid ichorous at 2:30 AM on December 17, 2008


krautland: actually I know that particular billboard better than you

Just like you intimately know the study in Prevention Science? Unlike what you claimed above, the study is not based on data taken from a paid focus group of twelve or otherwise. That study reviewed the survey data which was collected and presented by the MMP as evidence of the efficacy of its campaign, and found the MMP claims of its success contradicted by the raw data. Also, the MMP surveys polled hundreds to thousands and not a dozen.
posted by daksya at 3:33 AM on December 17, 2008


Just like you intimately know the study in Prevention Science?
I stand by that comment as I stand by my comment that I do know that campaign better. it would be tough to argue otherwise given where the campaign originated.
posted by krautland at 4:30 AM on December 17, 2008


I've seen this ad many, many times through work, and I think it's interesting that they decided to make light of how coke gets into the country. I'm not a drug-user (or against drugs) but I really don't like the industry behind coke and how that gram got its way into someone's pocket. I think using coke is as bad as purchasing blood diamonds, to be honest.
posted by mippy at 8:33 AM on December 17, 2008


*against the use of drugs

Sorry. It's been a long day.
posted by mippy at 8:33 AM on December 17, 2008


I think that the biggest problem with the MMP is that by continually focussing on the most extreme consequences of meth use, it runs the risk of being rejected as hyperbole. Do people find themselves in this situation? Absolutely. However, it's a very small proportion of all meth users.

People who are genuinely at risk of meth use will almost certainly be people who actually know some meth users, and the majority of the people that they know won't be experiencing anything like these problems. When people are asked to choose between experience and theory, they'll almost always choose experience. eg. We know that the government lies to us about pot. Chances are, they're lying to us about meth, too. Pass the pipe.

Another problem is that most young people believe they're indestructable. People die on mountains and in other extreme sports all the time. Young mountain climbers tend not to believe it'll happen to them. You'll hear them saying things like "Provided I'm careful, and follow proper procedure, the chances of it happening to me are extremely low." People who engage in extreme drug use say many of the same things. "Provided I don't inject. Provided I leave reasonable periods between each episode. etc. etc."

And they would be the users at lower risk of dependence. The people who have the kind of history that puts them at higher risk tend not to give a shit about consequences. They just want the pain relief.

Finally, although I personally support decriminalization combined with a programme of controlled availability for most drugs, the relationship between prohibition and many of the negative consequences isn't a straightforward one. We've got multiple examples from history, for example, legal cocaine use in the UK prior to WW1, the old 'British System' of heroin prescribing, Needle Park in Zurich and the various Dutch experiments (Platform Zero in Rotterdam, the heroin barge in Amsterdam, etc.) to show that this is a far from unproblematic approach. Prevalence continued to grow, crime continued to dominate sale and distribution, users continued to get sick and die. And cigarettes, which are perfectly legal everywhere, continue to attract criminal gangs, smuggling to take advantage of tax differentials, who go on killing to ensure access to those profits.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:43 AM on December 17, 2008


Also, I'm pretty sure that people like mippy are the target audience for this campaign.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:44 AM on December 17, 2008


read it. it's a fairly short sentence. anything not in it that you might take from it is your opinion.

No, no, no. You're the self-proclaimed expert on this campaign and apparently I'm reading it wrong. So tell me, what does the billboard mean? What is the message behind a photograph of a prison cell and the sentences "No one thinks they'll spend a romantic evening here. Meth will change that" other than "you might get raped in prison"? Please, I'm ever so stupid, tell me what it really means.

the only possible drug you could make this argument for is pot and even then I'd like you to meet my schizophrenic, paranoid and frighteningly unstable little brother.

Ah, you're one of those people. Look, your biases are so ridiculously out of whack that it has caused you to lie repeatedly throughout this thread, because you have nothing else to support your argument. You are unable to explain the prison rape billboard, so you just say "no, it doesn't mean that" and try to change the subject. You lied about the Prevention Science survey, and you presented false evidence to try to discredit it.

If you really want to prevent drug use, lying, stonewalling, and changing the subject are not going to help your cause. You need to take a long hard look at yourself, krautland, because this behavior is beneath you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2008


I'm pretty sure that people like mippy are the target audience for this campaign.

On what basis? I'm well past the age where one has to first decide or discover where they stand on drugs.
posted by mippy at 9:55 AM on December 17, 2008


I think that the biggest problem with the MMP is that by continually focussing on the most extreme consequences of meth use

that's true but it is somewhat of a rock-and-hard-place problem. if you focus on everyday situations people ignore it. it's sort of like a tv show where everyone gets along. eventually you wanna shoot yourself in the knee just to get some drama. you can only get attention with boring/everyday/usual content when the consumer has no other option but to pay attention to it.

However, it's a very small proportion of all meth users.
that statement does not correspond with the strategy I saw. it was actually quite a substantial number of users who had anything but minor problems.

People who are genuinely at risk of meth use will almost certainly be people who actually know some meth users, and the majority of the people that they know won't be experiencing anything like these problems.
you are disregarding teenage naivete (remember we're talking to teenagers here). peer pressure thrives especially when kids pretend to be more experienced than they actually are.

Another problem is that most young people believe they're indestructable.
yes. attacking that was a key part of the brief.

No, no, no. You're the self-proclaimed expert on this campaign and apparently I'm reading it wrong. So tell me, what does the billboard mean?
actually I am far from self-proclaimed but I'll grant you that you don't know anything about me beyond my internet handle. only what else I could do for you is beyond me. I already explained what the strategy was, I showed you the ads, I outlined what they did ... did you not read all that way up in my earlier comments or are you taking a piss? do I really need to repeat myself again so you'll finally get it?

What is the message behind a photograph of a prison cell and the sentences "No one thinks they'll spend a romantic evening here. Meth will change that" other than "you might get raped in prison"?
it's not about any message behind anything. you can't control what people will see behind anything, they are too different. everyone will make their own assumptions. first term ad students learn not to make assumptions part of their strategies. the only message anyone can control is the one they spell out. in this case it's simply that you should not think that you can just do a little meth on a saturday night and assume nothing would happen. that is the strategy for the whole campaign and every single execution illustrates that in a different and hopefully compelling or engaging way. see how hooked you are by it? how you made the assumption that this implied rape? if you're afraid of being gangraped in a cell and can't stop thinking about that after seeing this poster then it succeeded.

Look, your biases are so ridiculously out of whack that it has caused you to lie repeatedly throughout this thread
what bias? what do you know about me beyond conjecture? have you considered that you might be missing certain parts of the picture? you don't even know how I feel about using any drug.

You lied about the Prevention Science survey, and you presented false evidence to try to discredit it.
no, I did not and no matter how much you insist that doesn't change it.

You need to take a long hard look at yourself, krautland, because this behavior is beneath you.
oh, grow up. you're the one throwing insults around because he's being called out on his crap.
posted by krautland at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2008


it's not about any message behind anything. you can't control what people will see behind anything, they are too different. everyone will make their own assumptions. first term ad students learn not to make assumptions part of their strategies. the only message anyone can control is the one they spell out. in this case it's simply that you should not think that you can just do a little meth on a saturday night and assume nothing would happen. that is the strategy for the whole campaign and every single execution illustrates that in a different and hopefully compelling or engaging way. see how hooked you are by it? how you made the assumption that this implied rape? if you're afraid of being gangraped in a cell and can't stop thinking about that after seeing this poster then it succeeded.

You are ridiculous, dishonest, and I'm done with you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2008


You are ridiculous, dishonest
I resent both those accusations but suit yourself. not much lost.
posted by krautland at 12:48 PM on December 17, 2008


I can't believe you're actually having an argument over whether the diction "romantic night in prison" (superimposed over the image of a bunk bed, no less) connotes rape. It's clearly sensational copy. Why is it such a crime to point this out?
posted by kid ichorous at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2008


Sensational, in this case, meaning cheap and provocative, rather than stellar.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2008


On a simplistic level, the author can claim that all that is in the message is the few words that accompany the message. But it is disingenuous to claim that the promoters of the PSA do not intend for any other meanings to be taken, such as the rape-in-prison message that is clearly present.

Krautland, you spend an awful lot of bluespace pretending that this message is not there or is not intended to be read from the PSA. Sorry, but composition and design don't work that way.
posted by beelzbubba at 1:21 PM on December 17, 2008


pretending that this message is not there or is not intended to be read from the PSA
I understand completely what he took from it but that is his interpretation and I refuse responsibility for that. you should not think that you can just do a little meth on a saturday night and assume nothing will happen is the intended message MMP paid to have communicated and that's what they got.

I find his argument terribly disingenuous. it's a bit as if he were saying pepsi advertises because they want kids teeth to decay. they don't, they just want to make a buck and they don't really care about the effect of their sugarwater. that's not exactly nice but it's a different intention.

and let's not forget that he also argues that there should not be any attempt to talk kids out of trying meth et all because it's really the government that gets them into trouble. it's been a while since I've heard such a craptastic nonstarter of a tinfoil argument against a campaign that aims to do good. what's he going to attack next, a needle exchange program?
posted by krautland at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2008


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