Anti-Drug Ads That Make You Want to Take Drugs

There's so much anti-drug advertising out there. And so much of it, in so many ways, actually makes people want to take drugs. Not all such efforts are ineffectual, but some are truly ridiculous, and surely have the opposite effect on the target than what was intended. Let have a look, shall we?

  1. Only Vermin Take Drugs

    Advertiser: Above the Influence (Office of National Drug Control Policy and Partnership for a Drug Free America)

    These ads show teenagers as the vermin they are! Two rats offer each other rat poison. Slugs get ready to bang some salt. Bugs share bug spray. The tagline is, "What's the worst that could happen?" First, anyone who's ever worked with teens knows they think they're immortal and don't respond well to suggestions that they might accidentally kill themselves. Second, you're comparing them to vermin. I know everyone thinks teens are as lazy as slugs, as annoying as bugs, and have the hygiene and eating habits of rodents. But I wouldn't try to appeal to them by pointing that out. You catch more flies with honey.

  2. Do Drugs, Be Like Belinda Carlisle

    Advertiser: Rock Against Drugs

    In this rad R.A.D. PSA, Belinda Carlisle reclines on a beach in a sexy, shoulder-padded blazer. She tells us she used to take drugs, until she woke up one morning and looked scary, so she quit! Just like that. And now, life's a beach! The moral of the story? Do drugs and you'll end up like Belinda Carlisle, a sexy megastar. Also, you can quit any time. Thanks, Belinda!

  3. Stop Taking Drugs and Dance!

    Advertisers: Various.

    It doesn't matter if they're rapping, clapping or getting down with jazz hands, once they start singing about not using drugs, I start laughing. There are too many imbecilic musical productions that pass as anti-drug PSAs. I couldn't decide on one, so here's a sampler.

    McGruff the Crime Dog says users are losers!

    McGruff with Regina. Best painfully poppy lyric: "Learning how to say no can make a winner of you!"

    "Straight Up!" The anti-drug rap: Best inadvertently pro-drug lyric: "Hey little brother, what's up with these drugs? You wanna make a lot of money?"

    "Don't Put it in Your Mouth!" From Canada. Best puppeted lyric: "Don't you stuff it in your face!"

    "Choose." Best song-interrupting dialogue: "Can I change the channel or something?" "Well, you can change what's going on!"

  4. Be Sexy and Independent on Crack

    Advertiser: Partnership for a Drug Free America

    OK, this ad is not really called "Sexy Crackhead." I'm also not sure exactly what age group it's aimed at, but I'm desperately trying to remember how young I was when I became aware of prostitution. Let's assume the image of a young woman exiting her apartment on to a street wouldn't have made the 14-year-old me automatically assume she's part of the sex trade. Neither would her dialogue. "It's tough being 14. You know what I mean? I've been around and tried everything. I've been on my own for over a year now." Wow, here's a young, disturbingly hot 14-year-old putting on makeup and looking and acting like an adult. Which is pretty much all my 14-year-old self wanted to do. Perhaps it was meant to shock parents into action. Let's hope the action wasn't soliciting sexy, underage crackheads.

  5. Smoke Crack, He'll Rape Your Corpse

    Advertiser: Partnership for a Drug Free America

    The clear suggestion from this PSA is that if you do drugs, you will die and then a ghoul is going to have sex with your corpse. He's all decked out in scary Deliverance teeth and suggests you come to his place for a little party. He's excited because crack has been drawing a younger crowd, and he introduces you to two teens, including Tracy, a "cute gal" who is just 14. He then urges you to "join the party" and "try crack." In the most disturbing way possible, he adds, "I could use the company." Being corpse-raped isn't just a concern for those who die from drugs. I'll bet Creepy wouldn't keep his hands to himself if you happened to touch a downed power line. Plus, this whole ad is a bit improbable, no? I'm going to stick up for morgue workers everywhere and say the vast majority don't look like haunted-house rejects and have never diddled a corpse.

  1. Dealers Are Shapeshifting Snake Men

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: April 29, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT