Best anti-pot ad ever Redux

Message board reactions to The best anti-pot ad ever:

Anti-marijuana ads by stoners and for stoners? Bud-blazer Seth Stevenson gives the latest weed-whacking ads an “A” for effectiveness, declaring the newest campaign The Best Anti-Pot Ad Ever. He lauds these ads for steering away from the alarmism of previous spots, and sticking to the more modestly realistic claims that pot can cause aliens to steal your girlfriend or maybe disappoint your dog. Color me dubious that the same primal fears which sell toothpaste and deodorant—getting dumped and making a poor impression—will have any special cachet with the stoner set.

The merits of this argument, however, get lost in the haze of smoke rising from Slate‘s basement apartment, The Fray. Legions of readers seem to be lit up over the mere concept of opposing marijuana use. Rather than discouraging stoners, the ads have only incensed them. Buried among the tirades for legalization, there are some rather astonishing testimonials—one poster claims to have risen from his wheelchair and surfed the swells of hurricanes under the curative powers of the magic herb. I’m not saying he didn’t… but his story lends credibility to mnloft‘s harrowing tale of a teenage son literally gone psycho under the influence of weed. Doesn’t every stoner know one kid who couldn’t quite hack it?

Amidst all the swirling color, some actual discussion of the article and the ads has taken place. First-time Frayster, eek223, provides a fairly representative reaction to the ads from a teenaged perspective—apparently, low-budget isn’t “hip” with the upcoming generation. bluebird makes a solid point that all such commercials inspire the inevitable adolescent question: “Who’s ‘The Man’ behind the curtain?” (If this point interests you, check out this post from Melvyl.) Based on her personal experience, queentutt figures mass-media might as well be broadcasting from the dark side of the moon, given how poorly it connects with contemporary kids. In a reasonably fair critique of Stevenson‘s article, figgyforcurt worries about short-term memory loss among anti-drug advertisers:

This article would’ve been better written if it explored the dilemma of sending mixed messages to kids by drastically changing “brand messaging.” Think about it. One year ago, an anti-marijuana ad tells kids they’re going to get high and kill a toddler, and the next year, an ad tells them they’ll be uninteresting. If I were a teen and I’d seen both sets of ads, I’d dismiss both, because I’d see through the fact that a thinking man on the other end of the ad is trying to tell me why something is bad but can’t figure out why exactly it is bad. This is the “fundamental mistake” this writer made in writing this article, dismissing the fact that those old ads do exist, and have impacted teens. Failing to consider that no matter how effective these ads appear, they must be considered as inconsistent in the larger framework of the anti-marijuana ad context.

Personally, I’d hope the best way to scare cynical teens straight would involve showing them the perils of earnest drug culture—NORML parties. In the meantime, responsible adults would be welcome in the Ad Report Card Fray. If you don’t show up, someone’s kids will be getting the unchallenged word on drugs from folks like thisGA