5 Anti-Drug Ads That Went Hilariously Wrong

Earlier this week, the NSW Police Force released plans to expand its ‘Dob in a dealer’ campaign, targeting ice dealers in Sydney.

The announcement has already been met with criticism from drug reform experts, who argue that the Government should focus on harm minimisation, rather than invest further resources into the failed ‘war on drugs’.

The expansion announcement comes just months after the release of the anti-drug campaign titled ‘Stoner Sloth’ – a video series criticised for being ineffective and downright ridiculous.

According to Matt Noffs, whose Noffs Foundation specialises in drug treatment for young people, the Stoner Sloth campaign was a “waste of money”. Mr Noffs believes the money could have been better spent on helping young people to beat drug addiction and get back on the right path. He told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“For less than the cost of this campaign, we run street universities that help hundreds of kids off drugs,” and “The biggest issue I have with this campaign is that it stigmatises children with drug issues.”

But the Stoner Sloth wasn’t the first time our government failed in its attempt to deter young people from taking drugs. Here are five other ad campaign criticised for being ineffective.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Say No To Drugs Advert

On its surface, this commercial seems pretty good: it is 30 seconds long, everyone loves the Ninja Turtles, and the marijuana pusher appears crushed at the end, after the six year old’s crushing corny 90s putdown.

That is until you take a step back and think: were middle-class, suburban, TMNT-loving six-year olds really a group teetering on the brink of marijuana addiction? Probably not. In reality, this ad may have been responsible for introducing some of that demographic to the concept of pot. Oops.

If there is any message six-year-olds took from watching this ad, it’s abstaining from “pot” is for their cartoon-watching friends, while their cool, leather-clad, older brother blazes it.

Your Brain on Drugs

Probably the most famous anti-drug campaign in recent history, this ad is full of gruff condescension. After making what is, at best, a muddled egg metaphor, the voiceover guy says “any questions” in a way which implies that if you do have questions, he’s going to punch you in the face. To clarify, your brain is not an egg. And doing drugs probably won’t scramble it.

Thinking of the long-term effect of this ad, it most likely accomplished one thing: reminding pot users how great some fried eggs would be right now.

Canadian Drug Rap

Released two years after NWA’s ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ helped make smoking weed mainstream, the Canadian Drug Rap never stood a chance. Unfortunately, no-one told the Canadians. The ad itself hits that sweet spot between Barney sing-along and full-blow acid freak out, which would be hilarious if wasn’t intended as a serious anti-drug campaign.

The premise for the commercial seems to be that kids might get confused between the sorts of drugs that are prescribed by doctors, and the kind that you get on the street. This seems a tad ironic now, with evidence of doctors issuing dangerous, legal painkillers to adults. That said, “drugs, drugs, drugs” is still an amazing chorus, worthy of the next Wiz Khalifa album.

An Anti-Drug Ad We Have No Way Of Describing

There’s a school of thought within the anti-drug movement if authority figures just act really, really angry at drug users, they’ll somehow stop using drugs. While NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s hardline on drugs is music to the ears of conservatives, he’s got nothing on this ad.

Beginning with the iconic this-egg-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercial (above), the actor then tells us that snorting heroin is like smashing the egg with a frying pan. Where did this weird metaphor come from? She then goes crazy and begins smashing up the once-pristine kitchen. It makes for engaging viewing, until you ask: does anyone actually snort heroin?

Don’t Blaze and Bathe

Yet another confusing metaphor and scenario. In this ad, a teenaged girl smokes a joint and dives off a high dive board headfirst into – *shock* – an empty pool. The ad raises a number of important questions: how was she sober enough to change into a one-piece bathing suit, but not realise the pool was empty? How did she get into the pool in the first place? How does this have anything to do with marijuana use?

So there you have it – ineffective, expensive and sometimes confusing attempts by out-of-touch conservatives to stop young people from taking drugs. One wonders what’s next.

Ugur Nedim About Ugur Nedim
Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Drug Defence Lawyers.

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