PSAs

Shaunacy Ferro writes in Popular Science that “advertising is normally all about grabbing your attention, but [Ohio University researcher Carson] Wagner says that’s a bad way to reduce drug use.” 1

“The U.S. has spent [hundreds of i] millions of dollars since the 1980s on anti-drug ads,” reports NPR News. “But research shows that some of these older public service announcements might be counterproductive.” 2

“Carson Wagner, now an assistant professor of journalism at Ohio University, wrote his 1998 Penn State master’s thesis in media studies on the counter-intuitive effects of anti-drug ads,” notes Ferro. “He demonstrated that for some kids, seeing anti-drug ads made them curious about what doing drugs would be like, even if they had never had that curiosity before.” 3

Ferro “explains that in some cases, the old ads like ‘this is your brain on drugs,’ may have encouraged teens to try drugs.”

“Subconsciously, kids would start to think, ‘Hmm, well I don’t really know what doing drugs is like. Maybe I should try it,'” Ferro says.

There may be a scientific reason for that curiosity. Ohio University researcher Carson Wagner calls it an “information gap.”

“We become curious to close that gap in information,” Wagner says. “And in this case, that gap in information is the experience of using drugs.” 4

Drugs education has come a long way since Nancy Reagan,” writes Brian Wheeler for BBC News Magazine.… When they first appeared, the Public Service Announcements would try to convince “teenagers to Just Say No to drugs, a campaign which many experts now believe was counterproductive.” 5

NPR notes that “now that the ads are shifting to reach teens who want to rebel, new studies show they may actually be more effective.” 6

“But a surprising number of anti-drugs campaigns around the world still fall back on scare tactics and, in particular, the drug-fuelled ‘descent into hell’,” writes Wheeler.7


Notes

Above the Influence

i The Office of National Drug Control Policy, established in 1988, runs the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a propaganda machine created to stop kids from using drugs and the money behind anti-drug ad campaigns like “My Anti-Drug” and “Above the Influence.” Since it was established in 1998, the government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars a year into buying ad spots for anti-drug propaganda. But does it work?
– Shaunacy Ferro, “The Science Of PSAs: Do Anti-Drug Ads Keep Kids Off Drugs?” Popular Science, 15 April 2013, at http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/science-psas-do-anti-drug-ads-keep-kids-drugs (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

Sources

1 Shaunacy Ferro, “The Science Of PSAs: Do Anti-Drug Ads Keep Kids Off Drugs?” Popular Science, 15 April 2013, at http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/science-psas-do-anti-drug-ads-keep-kids-drugs (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

2 “Anti-Drug PSAs: Do They Work?” NPR News, 28 April 2013, at http://www.npr.org/2013/04/28/179658317/anti-drug-psas-do-they-work (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

3 Ferro, “Science of PSAs” (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

4 “Anti-Drug PSAs,” NPR News (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

5 Brian Wheeler, “Talk to Frank: Do anti-drugs adverts work?” BBC News Magazine, 6 February 2013, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21242664 (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

6 “Anti-Drug PSAs,” NPR News (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

7 Wheeler, “Talk to Frank” (retrieved: 29 April 2013).

Related videos

“Brain On Drugs,” pushthefire video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl5gBJGnaXs (retrieved: 29 April 2013). (Watch it here)

“Anti-Marijuana – Nothing Can Happen To You Too – Drug-Free America,” Video Disorder video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy_knXF_G6c (retrieved: 4 January 2013). (Watch it here)

“Anti Weed Commercial,” Lucky Stephens video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhjwUR2SeAE (retrieved: 4 January 2013). (Watch it here)

“The Worst Anti-Drug Movie Ever,” Slate V video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBpk0L42jgE (retrieved: 4 January 2013). (Watch it here)

“America’s Drug Habit Funds Terrorism & Terrorists Video PSA,” rosaryfilms video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVQnbNspHsk (retrieved: 29 April 2013). (Watch it here)

“Reefer Madness,” 1936, video at Google Video, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6696582420128930236 (retrieved: 26 March 2011). (Watch it here)

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