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Teen-Targeted Substance Abuse Prevention Campaign Focuses on Digital, Social Media

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The “Above the Influence” (ATI) drug and alcohol prevention campaign, formerly funded through federal money, will shift from expensive television ads to lower-cost digital and social media campaigns, The New York Times reports. The campaign will concentrate on reaching teens where they spend time, such as Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook.

The campaign was introduced in 2005 by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the ad agency Foot, Cone & Belding, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the article notes. ONDCP spent $540 million to run the campaign, which was matched by donations from the private sector. Federal funding was reduced over the ensuing years. Last year, the campaign received no federal funding.

the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has decided to continue the campaign, reducing costs by concentrating on digital and social media instead of television ads, and seeking corporate sponsorships, the article notes. Currently, Above the Influence has almost 1.87 million “Likes” on Facebook.

“We recognize that teens are a tough audience – they don’t like to be lectured or told what not to do and they don’t worry about their mortality,” Allen Rosenshine, Vice Chairman and Executive Director of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said in a news release. “The insightful strategic messages offered by the ATI campaign take a different approach toward teens, reinforcing the fact that they value themselves and their aspirations above the debilitating and self-destructive influence of drugs. Over time, this has proven far more effective than the more traditional, negative anti-drug messages that today’s teens largely ignore.”

The new ATI approach includes an online advertising campaign, “Made by Me.” It encourages teens to submit their ideas for the next ATI public service announcement. Teens will be able to vote on the submissions, and the winning concept will be filmed by a famous director. It will premiere in October to coincide with Above the Influence Day.

2 Responses to this article

  1. billinsandiego / July 20, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Another failed strategy that the Feds have seen fit to drop. It would not have been defunded if evaluations demonstrated some level of effectiveness. Public policy-based environmental strategies continue to show the most consistent effective approach to reduce negative consequences associated with alcohol and illicit drug use. Why? Because it is easier to make changes in the alcohol and drug using environment than to change several hundred thousand years of human evolution that made us the curious, risk-taking, and insight craving creatures that we are today. Prevention should be on preventing harm, not on the bound-to-fail strategy of repressing normal human behavior.

  2. Debra Rincon Lopez / July 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Any way that we can CURB Teenage Drug ABUSERS is a Start in the Right DIRECTION. I don’t want to see them ruin their lives like so many of us ADULTS have by starting with the GATEWAY Drug MARIJUANA! I don’t care what anyone says, I say it’s the WORST Gateway drug around, besides ALCOHOL? But Alcohol is Legal that makes it a HARDER FIGHT For ALL OF US to FIGHT!

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