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November 30, 2009

Kids won't just laugh off the latest anti-drug PSAs. Or will they?

Posted on Mon Nov 30 2009

The problem with ads aimed at getting kids to avoid drugs is that they can be so easy to ridicule. Think "This is your brain on drugs," or "I learned it by watching you!" Both of those became punch lines with Gen Xers. (And didn't that dad set himself up by asking, "Who taught you how to do this?" Duh.) This latest work from Ground Zero on behalf of the Partnership for a Drug Free America shows how much advertising has evolved since then. Instead of dramatized situations, this is cinéma vérité type stuff. Maybe it helps that the Web has created a new kind of real-time vérité (as exploited by the hit film Paranormal Activity), but ads like "Party at Troy's," shown here, with teens passing out and puking in the bathroom, look pretty real to me (though admittedly, it's been a while since I've attended a party like this). It would seem hard for teens to create an ironic distance between themselves and this sort of PSA. But maybe I'm wrong and this is hilarious stuff to a 15-year-old. I didn't get Napoleon Dynamite, either.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

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