Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Ads Defuse Drug Abuse

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Ads Defuse Drug Abuse

Article excerpt

NEW YORK City-The advertising community thinks it has found a partial solution to drug abuse in this country: advertising. The industry's top trade association says a new study demonstrates a clear relationship between heavy exposure to anti-drug messages and increased aversion to drug use.

Indeed, results were so conclusive that the research has become a case study for the effectiveness of advertising, according to john O'Toole, president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As). in 1986, the group launched a pro bono anti-drug advertising campaign that served as the basis for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America tracking study of advertising's ability to discourage negative behavior.

"Behavior is a function of the way a product or activity is presented," says Tom Hedrick, president of the Partnership, a nonprofit organization of advertising professionals. In this campaign, the 'product' is steering clear of drugs. And we've shown that un-selling is the same discipline as selling."

The study compares results of print and broadcast anti-drug advertising in high-exposure areas-including Miami and Minneapolis-against markets in which less space and airtime were donated, such as Chicago and Los Angeles.

The number of adults who had smoked marijuana during the previous year decreased by one-third in high-exposure markets, while slipping only 15 percent in low-exposure communities.

For harder drugs, such as cocaine, results were also encouraging but less definitive because fewer participants used the drug. …

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