STUDY FAULTS WHITE HOUSE ANTI-DRUG ADS
Report Says Campaigns Have Little Impact On Youth
WASHINGTON -- A study commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA) has concluded that the advertising program of the White House
anti-drug office has had little impact on its primary target: America's
Conducted jointly by the Annenberg School of Communications at the
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Westat, a 30-year-old
research firm in Rockville, Md., the analysis concluded that "there is
little evidence of direct favorable [advertising] campaign effects on youth."
Officials of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
were not immediately available for comment today because of the Martin
Luther King Day holiday, which has closed most federal offices.
In the past ONDCP officials have questioned previous NIDA evaluations,
claiming they survey a far smaller number of youths than a long-running
University of Michigan "Monitoring the Future" survey that has reported
The latest release of the Monitoring the Future results, on Dec. 19, showed
an 11% decline in drug use by eighth, 10th and 12th graders over the past
two years. John P. Walters, the White House "drug czar" and Tom Hedrick,
founding director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, attributed
some of those results to the ad campaign.
$150 million The drug office spends $150 million a year on advertising, and
those expenditures have been the subject of ongoing controversy in Congress.
The NIDA report covers the advertising campaign's start in September 1999
through June 2003.
Entitled "Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: 2003
Report of Findings," the report issued by NIDA notes that the advertising
campaigns have had a "favorable effect" on parents but not on the children,
whose illicit drug use is the focus of the ads.
Marijuana emphasis The White House ad campaign, though aimed at all illicit
drug use, intensified its focus on marijuana in the fall of 2002.
However, the report said that investigators found that "youth who were more
exposed to [the anti-drug advertising campaign] messages are no more likely
to hold favorable beliefs or intentions about marijuana than are youth less
exposed to those messages."
NIDA, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been
the agency charged with officially evaluating the White House's anti-drug
ad campaigns for years.
WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles the drug office advertising
account, but most ads come from the Partnership. A Partnership spokesman
did not return calls.
Ogilvy & Mather While the drug office has enjoyed some strong congressional
support, it also has strong critics on Capitol Hill who have questioned
both the ads effectiveness and the use of Ogilvy, which earlier settled for
$1.8 million civil charges that it overbilled the government for its ad
work on the anti-drug account. Two former Ogilvy officials were recently
indicted on charges related to those disputed billings.
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