Advertising War On Drugs Media Essay

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The use of media advertising to fight the war on drugs has been around for many years. The Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are the main two groups that are tackling this problem. These two groups were not always united though. In the early years the PDFA was fighting this problem without any other help. The PDFA had a unique creative strategy that they had created before the ONDCP joined in on the fight.

In the early years the PDFA aired the anti-drug messages through broadcast, cable television, radio stations, and magazines. Many of the messages used strong fear appeals to get people to stop using drugs. Fear appeals is "an advertising message that creates anxiety in a receiver by showing negative consequences that can result from engaging in or not engaging in a particular behavior." (Advertising and Promotion) Some ways in which the PDFA used fear appeals was by displaying ads that showed "a bus driver who snorts cocaine, African American boys selling crack in a school yard, and messages that state one puff and you are hooked." (Using Advertising) Many people questioned these approaches because most of these ads are exaggerated and contain distorted facts. So many viewers will not believe what they are seeing so they won't pay much attention to them. Also most of these advertisements have a low fear appeal therefore people probably will not remember them long after their shown. So these advertisements are not an effective way to change a person's attitude and behavior towards drugs.

There are many ways that a company can evaluate the effectiveness of an advertisement. The PDFA and the ONDCP found many ways to do this but some are more effective than others. Some of the effective ways to evaluate the effectiveness were through the annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Surveys (PATS) and the annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (N.I.D.A.) surveys. Both of these surveys stated that most teens remembered seeing the anti-drug advertisements when they were shown. Also many of the teens stated that they were influenced by them therefore these advertisements did have an effect on their viewers. Some of the ineffective ways to evaluate the effectiveness were through research studies. Many of the research studies that were conducted were severely criticized and were based on faulty research. Therefore as you can see there are effective and ineffective ways to decide whether an advertisement was worth showing or not.

There are many other ways to evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. The government surveys are a very effective way but to get accurate results a company should do more than just use these. A company can obtain feedback through focus groups, surveys by mail, questionnaires, or telephone surveys. If a company wants to get accurate information then they should obtain feedback not just by one but a multiple of these methods. The more ways methods you use to get feedback then the more information you will get about how effective your advertising campaign was.

When you create an advertising campaign you should focus on certain market segments. The PDFA did not do this until the ONDCP joined their forces. The ONDCP believed that there should be a greater focus on market segmentation. This group knew that everyone has different views towards different drugs therefore they should conduct research so they know how a certain market feels towards a particular drug and what would be the best way to target this group. Knowing this their advertising strategy contained different messages that appealed to different age groups like young people, teens, and parents. They also created messages that hit a particular geographic, socioeconomic, and ethnic audience. Doing this allows them to hit a larger target and get more people involved in stopping drug use.

In the beginning of the case the PDFA's and the ONDCP's main market segments were adults and young people. They wanted to "educate America's youth as well as their parents about the dangers of drug use and provide them with resistance techniques that could be used when confronted with the choice of using drugs."(Using Advertising) They soon realized that the youth should be the main segment that they should focus on. They didn't focus on any youth neither they wanted to focus their attention on the kids that were already using drugs instead of ones that were thinking about using them. This was an effective strategy too because by December 2003 a report showed that there was an 11% decline in drug use for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

I believe the youth that have already started using drugs was the best target for these two groups to aim for. I feel that this market segment will be the most likely to make a difference. If other kids see kids that are already using drugs stopping their abuse then they will be less likely to use drugs. Also since the youth have already used drugs and realized they should stop then they will be less likely to use them when they are older. So this market segmentation would most likely be the most effective.

To get a message across to viewers the company can use a variety of communication tools or focus primarily on media advertising. In media advertising most advertisements are placed in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Advertisements can also be heard on the radio, seen on television, billboards, and the internet. Media advertising uses a lot of different communication vehicles so the message is likely to get across to different types of people. For instance, younger generations use the internet and older generations still read the paper. Since media advertising covers both of these areas then many people will hear or see the message.

Media advertising would be effective but I feel that using a variety of communication tools would be even more effective. Integrated media would not only include the vehicles used by media advertising but would also use "high impact programs like sports and entertainment events, non-traditional media like movie and video trailers, brochures, strategic ad placements, and Internet web sites." (Using Advertising) Due to this advertising campaign the message would get across to many different market segments. People that watch sports, people that use the internet regularly, people that still read the paper, and people that are always looking for new trailers to watch will see the message that the company is trying to sell. So this advertising method would be more effective because it would allow for a variety of people to see the advertisement.

A variety of communication vehicles are not the only way to get a company's message across. The ONDCP decided to try something new so they linked drug use with terrorism. The first few commercials showed weapons and explosives that were purchased from drug sales. Many groups didn't know what to think about the commercials but a survey showed that 74% of students saw these commercials and decided they weren't going to use drugs. So the first few commercials were effective and made teenagers second guess drug use.

Due to the effectiveness of the first commercials the ONDCP decided to run a second series of commercials. In these advertisements they linked drug use to crime and terrorism. These were not effective as the first set of commercials though. Many people felt that these advertisements violated a basic principle of consumer advertising. In an advertisement a company is not suppose to tell consumers what they're doing is stupid. Therefore these commercials did not make viewers feel like not starting drug use instead they made viewers second guess using drugs.

This new advertisements were and were not an effective way of changing people's attitudes towards drug. If the ONDCP kept with just the first commercials then this method would have been very effective. They linked the drug use with terrorism right after the 9/11 attack so that was in everyone's mind. Therefore just by showing one viewing of the first set of commercials 74% of students decided to not use drugs. Imagine if these commercials were shown again a couple weeks after the first airing. People that had not seen the commercials the first time around may have gotten to see them the second time. So I believe that the percentage of students not likely to start using drugs would have increased. The ONDCP messed up when they aired the second set of commercials because crime was not on people's minds. They did not play these ads after something dramatic happened which is probably why these commercials were not as effective. So overall I do think these commercials were effective but they would have been more effective if the ONDCP didn't do the second set of commercials.

The ONDCP and the PDFA did a great job in changing people's views towards drug use. They got the message out there and made some people change their minds about using drugs. I feel that the government should have been involved. If they hadn't allowed the government to be a part of it then they would not have had the support they needed to get the message across. Due to the government's involvement they had more media time and space than before. The ONDCP also made changes that were effective to the marketing campaign. For example, the PDFA never would have focused on market segmentation if the ONDCP hadn't suggested it. Therefore they were able to hit more markets due to creating different messages that appealed to each market segment. So the government being involved in the anti-drug advertising campaign benefited everyone in the long run.