Page 1






How it all started?


Why creating a campaign was necessary?


How an anti-drug campaign is created?


Local drug usage


Does an anti-drug campaign work?


Why campaigns didn’t work lately


How can a campaign be more Effective?


Choosing a direction


Process & prototypes





‘ The first anti-opium laws were passed in 1870s ’

Why are some drugs legal and other drugs illegal today? It’s not based on any scientific assessment of the relative risks of these drugs – but it has everything to do with who is associated with these drugs. The first anti-opium laws in the 1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anticocaine laws, in the South in the early 1900s, were directed at black men. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest in the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Today, Latino and especially black communities are still subject to wildly disproportionate drug enforcement and sentencing practices.

1960s and the Nixon’s War In the 1960s, as drugs became symbols of youthful rebellion, social upheaval, and political dissent, the government halted scientific research to evaluate their medical safety and efficacy. In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on

drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer. In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations. Between 1973 and 1977, however, eleven states decriminalized marijuana possession. In January 1977, President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated on a campaign platform that included marijuana decriminalization. In October 1977, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Within just a few years, though, the tide had


% Of population was into drug abuse in the year *

20% 18% 14.1% 6.8%






shifted. Proposals to decriminalize marijuana were abandoned as parents became increasingly concerned about high rates of teen marijuana use. Marijuana was ultimately caught up in a broader cultural backlash against the perceived permissiveness of the 1970s.

The 1980s and 90s: Drug Hysteria and Skyrocketing Incarceration Rates The presidency of Ronald Reagan marked the start of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997. Public concern about illicit drug use built throughout the 1980s, largely due to media portrayals of people addicted to the smokeable form of cocaine dubbed “crack.” Soon after Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, his wife, Nancy Reagan, began a highly-publicized anti-drug campaign, coining the slogan “Just Say No.” This set the stage for the zero tolerance policies implemented in the mid-to-late 1980s. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, who believed that “casual drug users

19 9 0


2 01 0

should be taken out and shot,” founded the DARE drug education program, which was quickly adopted nationwide despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness. The increasingly harsh drug policies also blocked the expansion of syringe access programs and other harm reduction policies to reduce the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. [1]

The First Campaign Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” was the first ever attempt to fight the drug war with an awareness campaign. It was a great success, a big hit for drug users (especially teenagers) who didn’t know anything about the consequences and side effects drugs can create.” According to research conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, fewer young people in the 1980s were using illicit drugs. High school seniors using cannabis dropped from 50.1% in 1978 to 36% in 1987, to 12% in 1991 and the percentage of students using other drugs decreased similarly.” [2] After its great success, in the coming years government and a lot of other advertising companies tried similar attempts against drug abuse. But not all was a great success. (read it in details in further chapters




‘ Ju s t s a y n o’ w a s t h e first ever created anti-drug campaign. Nancy Regan once said in an interview about her statistically successful anti-drug campaign that “Making teenagers understand about the consequences would be the first step towards solving the problem.” [3] And she was right when people will know about the damages drugs can do they will leave it just out of fright. As per her thought the more knowledge people will posses about the drugs and their effects the less will people engage in consuming it. Since the origin of drug abuse in early 1900s, the numbers increased tragically in first fifty years and was the highest in 1960s but after the American president Nixon’s declaration of ‘war against drugs’ in 1971 and first lady Nancy Reagan’s campaign “Just Say No” in 1980s and early 1990s, drug usage decreased from 14.1% to 6%. [4]





HOW AN ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN IS CREATED? In late 1900s ‘Office of National Drug Control Policy, USA’ sets some basic rules about creating an antidrug campaign in America. After deep study of the drug abuse these rules were established.

Step1: Exploratory Research To develop new ads and campaign messages, the Media Campaign conducts literature reviews, incorporates input from a variety of experts in public health, prevention, treatment, and advertising, and obtains scientific and factual claim reviews by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Step 2: Qualitative of “Focus Group” Testing Early in the development phase of all Media Campaign advertising, competing ads undergo a rigorous qualitative evaluation among members of the target audience in at least two geographic markets.


Step 3: Qualitative or “Copy Testing” Each TV commercial must pass quantitative testing before being aired. Quantitative or “copy testing” places each ad in front of approximately 300 members of the target audience to assess the ad’s ability to strengthen antidrug beliefs and attitudes; the ad viewers are compared to a control group that does not view the advertisement.

Step 4: Tracking Studies Every month, the Campaign should survey 400 teens, ages 14-16, to assess how the ads are performing, including teen awareness and memory of ads, as well as teen attitudes about drugs and intentions to not use drugs.

ADVERTISING, RESEARCH, TESTING, AND TRACKING The Media Campaign employs a rigorous 4-step research, testing, and tracking procedure for its advertising. The procedures are consistent with those used by leading commercial advertisers and follow ad industry best practices as set by the Advertising Research Foundation. [5]

34 STE P



LOCAL DRUG USAGE “Drug abuse is an exclusively urban phenomenon is a myth.” Millions of Indians are dependent on alcohol, cannabis, and opiates, and drug misuse is a pervasive phenomenon in Indian society, says a new report, published jointly by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and India’s Ministry of Social Justice. A study done by US national institute of Health in 2004 states in the national household survey more than 40 000 men and boys (aged 12 to 60 years) were interviewed, while subsidiary studies looked at drug misuse among women and prison inmates and in rural populations and border areas. Alcohol, cannabis, opium, and heroin are the major drugs misused in India, says the report. Buprenorphine, propoxyphene, and heroin are the most commonly injected drugs.

Applying estimates of prevalence to population figures, the survey estimated that in India, whose population is just over a billion, 62.5 million people use alcohol, 8.75 million use cannabis, two million use opiates, and 0.6 million use sedatives or hypnotics. Seventeen per cent to 26% of these people can be classified as dependent users who need urgent treatment, say the report. About 25% of users of opiates and cannabis are likely to seek treatment, while about one in six people who drink alcohol are likely to do so. “That drug abuse is an exclusively urban phenomenon is a myth,” said Gary Lewis, the South Asia regional representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. “Injecting drugs and high risk behaviors are seen in urban and rural areas”, he added. [6]


DOES AN ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN WORK? Yes and no, in the olden days most people who started doing drugs, as states one of the research done in 1970s started because the people they were with were doing it. Most of them didn’t know about the effects or the side effects of the drugs, it just made them feel good and so they did it again and again. And soon they are addicted to drugs. The first few of the successful campaigns used this research and making people aware about the dangers of drug abuse. Nancy Regan said in an interview that “Making teenagers understand about the consequences would be the first step towards solving the problem.” [7] And her strategy worked well and her campaign was a huge success. Some campaigns launched around that time used similar strategies and worked great. A similar campaign named D.A.R.E was founded in 1984 by Daryl Gates, was short for ‘Drug Abuse Resistance Education’. The motto was to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in

gangs, and violent behavior. DARE, was a demandside drug control strategy of the American War on Drugs. Students who entered the program has to sign a pledge ‘not to use drugs or join gang’ and were taught by local police officers about the dangers of drug use in an interactive in-school curriculum which lasted ten weeks. [8] The results were positive and very effective. But in the last decade (considering 2002-2012) nine of ten campaign launched didn’t work. “Despite investing $1 billion in a massive anti-drug campaign, a controversial new study suggests that the push has failed to help the United States win the war on drugs” says Kate Barrett in one of her articles. [9] A congressionally mandated study released on October 2008 concluded that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched in the late 1990s to encourage young people to stay away from drugs “is unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths.”


WHY CAMPAIGNS DIDN’T WORK LATELY? The U.S. has spent millions of dollars since the 1980s on anti-drug ads. But research shows that some of these older public service announcements might be counterproductive. Now that the ads are shifting to reach teens who want to rebel, new studies show they may actually be more effective. Shaunacy Ferro wrote about these TV spots in Popular Science. She explains that in some cases, the old ads like “this is your brain on drugs,” may have encouraged teens to try drugs.

University found that fewer teenagers who saw the “Above the Influence” clips tried marijuana.”Eight percent of teenagers in a 2011 study who had seen the campaign and were familiar with it started smoking pot, versus 12 percent who had never seen it,” Ferro says. But Wagner says he thinks we shouldn’t take that information at face value. He says ultimately teenagers understand this information is coming from the government.”Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for,” he says. “Because they’ll begin to ask the question, well from where is the influence coming?” [10]

‘The ads like “this is your brain on drugs,” may have encouraged teens to try drugs.”

“Subconsciously, kids would start to think, ‘Hmm, well I don’t really know what doing drugs is like. Maybe I should try it,’” Ferro says. There may be a scientific reason for that curiosity. Ohio University researcher Carson Wagner calls it an “information gap.””We become curious to close that gap in information,” Wagner says. “And in this case, that gap in information is the experience of using drugs.”It wasn’t just that kids grew more curious. The clips from the early 1990s were pretty easy to mock. Wagner says that unfortunately the lingo didn’t always hit the mark.

Finally, after more failed campaigns, the makers of PSAs adjusted. Gone were the scare tactics and the ads that made kids wonder if drugs would really scramble their brains. With the “Above the Influence” campaign, the spots began to appeal to the idea that teens want to be seen as individuals, different from their parents and even their peers. Ferro says these ads were meant to appeal to teens trying to rebel.”So much of being a teenager wants to be independent, that that’s really the stance that anti-drug ads should take,” she says. These ads did a little better. A study from Ohio State

Why it needs to change?

Users of marijuana and alcohol may be savvier about the health risks posed by these substances than those who abstain, new research suggests. The findings, which were drawn from a large sample of Swiss men, showed that men who frequently used marijuana, alcohol and tobacco sought out information about the health risks of those substances more than those who didn’t use them. That may be troubling news for antisubstance-abuse campaigns, which often rely on scare tactics highlighting the health risks of drugs, according to the study, published July 11 in the International Journal of Public Health. The study shows that “when you know a lot about the risks and everything about the substances, it doesn’t really bring you to consume less,” said study co-author Petra Dermota, a psychologist at the University of Zurich. “You even consume more.”




Drug knowledge Scary images of smokers’ lungs or scarred livers are mainstays of anti-smoking and antialcohol campaigns. But research hadn’t shown that such health information actually reduced people’s drug usage. To see whether health information dissuaded people from using drugs, Dermota and her colleagues surveyed 12,000 men around age 20 who were entering the Swiss Army. Because the Swiss have universal, mandatory military service, the sample represents a cross-section that is representative of the young Swiss male population, she said. The survey included questions about use of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. In addition, the researchers asked the men how often they sought information on the health risks of those substances and how knowledgeable they were about those risks. People who smoked cannabis at least once a week were four times more likely to search for health-risk information as those who abstained. Regular smokers and those who binge drank at least once a month were also twice as likely to search for information about the health risks of alcohol or tobacco.The regular substance users were

also more likely to rate their own knowledge of the health risks higher than those who abstained. That was surprising, the researchers said, because the drug and alcohol users in the study tended to be less educated, and less-educated people generally tend to rate themselves as less health savvy. Not a deterrent The findings suggest that substance-abuse prevention campaigns may need to be tweaked. It may be that the long-term consequences, such as lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, are simply too far away to have much of an impact on people’s immediate decisions, Dermota said. Or, it may be that drug users believe the alcohol or marijuana’s benefits outweigh the risks. Instead, anti-drug messages should be more interactive, and spur critical thinking about the drugs to change people’s attitudes about drug use, Dermota said. “At the moment, most campaigns are just giving young people a lot of information, but this is not enough to prevent people from being at risk and using drugs,” Dermota said in an interview with LiveScience. [11]



“Because of this ‘Older Brother like’ approach, Talk To Frank campaign was such a big success.”

“Previous studies have focused on cognitive responses to anti-drug ads, that is, what do you remember, what was the main message, do you believe the message? We have found that although these questions are important, questions about ‘affect’ feelings generated from the ad and towards the use of drugs are extremely important for diagnosis and evaluation of these communications,” said Jon Morris, a UF advertising professor who presented the findings earlier this month at a Society of Biological Psychiatry conference in New York. “We were able to look at the feelings about influencers – family, friends, teachers and self – and this was also revealing. With more research this direction could help make these communications more effective.” Messages that showed and were tailored to thrillseeking teenagers, who are attracted to competitive and active behavior, were found to be the most effective at changing the feelings and intentions of young adults regarding drug use, Morris said. This type of ad was more effective than those conveying negative or threatening images, he said.


The study also found that ads involving selfesteem and relationships with friends were related to feelings about drug use. Those that lowered selfesteem produced higher emotional responses toward drug use, while those displaying strong emotional bonds with friends lowered it, Morris said. A UK based campaign named ‘Talk to Frank’ is the longest running anti-drug campaign UK has had. The message was new and simple: “Drugs are illegal. Talking about them isn’t, So Talk to Frank.” Dreamed up by ad agency Mother, Frank was, in fact, the new name for the National Drugs Helpline. It was meant to be a trusted “older brother” figure that young people could turn to for advice about illicit substances. Everything from the adventures of Pablo the canine drugs mule to a tour round a brain warehouse has been presented under the Frank label, making it a familiar brand name among the nation’s youth. Drugs education has come a long way since Nancy Reagan - and, in the UK. the cast of Grange Hill - urged teenagers to Just Say No to drugs, a campaign which many experts now believe was counterproductive. Most ads in Europe now focus, like Frank, on trying to give impartial information to help young people make their own decisions. The Home Office says 67% of young people in a survey said they would turn to Frank if they needed drugs advice. 225,892 calls were made to the Frank helpline and 3,341,777 visits to the website in 2011/12. Its proof, it argues, that the approach works. As a research done by Morris suggests that ‘A teenage drug abuser will try and stop if a message comes from a close friend, someone of the same age than told by some higher agencies like government or even parents.’ “Word of mouth is the strongest possible communication” says Morris. And only because of this ‘older brother’ approach, Talk To Frank campaign succeeded. [12]


C HOOSING A DIRE C TIO N After doing all this research, after trying to answer all of my questions now I was trying to choose a direction to go and to create some sort of anti-drug communication based on my research. While I was researching I came to know that in India abuse of psychedelic drugs are the most, researching on psychedelic drugs took me to 1960s’ psychedelic art style. While reading it I came to the term “psychedelic art.” And I came to know that “The Psychedelic art movement, as the name suggests, is visual design inspired by psychedelic experiences while the artists were on hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, psilocybin and” and I loved the artwork and it started a new era for designing. It was made to attract people attracted to drugs. It was perfect; I thought I could create a psychedelic style poster series, as posters will be good to attract teenagers. The main thing I found in my research was that teenagers don’t react too much if they knew that something is coming from the government they take it for granted but if someone of their own age says that its wrong, it could effect. It’s like teenagers don’t listen to parents, but if the same thing is coming from a friend their own age they would listen to it. So I thought creating a psychedelic style anti-drug posters will even help me with that, it will make my posters look a bit of non-professional, and would be something related to them.


PROCESS & PROTOTYPES At first I started with researching for worst consequences of drug abuse following Nancy regan’s words about the consequences. But I didn’t want to gross out the viewer with the visuals, as it encourages the user to do more drugs. But I wanted to convey the message that doing drugs is dangerous and using it can cause dangerous health issues. I thought I can use some dramatic visuals to convey the messages. I started creating some kind of copy and sketching some ideas related to the copy. I even studied some psychedelic style posters and how the colours and typography is treated.


I used Mixed media to create the prototypes, hand painting and digital drawing. Then I finalized the materials, it will be A2 sized poster for clear visibility and a normal print paper for a small production cost. I tried to make it look like a 1960s poster. I used comparatively less bright neon colours than the original psychedelic style, to make it look older. I think this could work because it’s psychedelic, which attracts people who are attracted to drugs and can communicate simple truths about drug abuse.



Drug Policy Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved from new-solutions-drug-policy/brief-history-drug-war


Lochridge, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from Abuse_Resistance_Education


‘Just Say No’(n.d.). Retrieved from Say_No


Lemaitre, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from rafael-lemaitre/are-drugs-today-really-ch_b_2670195.html

[5] Retrieved from ondcp/Campaign-Effectiveness-and-Rigor


Kumar, S. (n.d.). Retrieved from articles/PMC443486/


‘Just Say No’(n.d.). Retrieved from Say_No


Lochridge, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from Abuse_Resistance_Education


Barrett, K., & SCHAFFHAUSEN , J. . Retrieved from http://abcnews.


news, N.P.R (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.npr. org/2013/04/28/179658317/anti-drug-psas-do-they-work


Drug Users Know the Health Risks — and Don’t Care | LiveScience. (n.d.). Retrieved from


To Be Effective, Anti-Drug Ads Should Focus On Thrill-Seeking Teens » News » University of Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://news.ufl. edu/2004/05/27/antidrugads/

Research and design by Vivek Thakker

This book is the total compilation of the independent research I did for creating anti-drug posters. It contains how and what I researched and what inspired me follow a definite style to create the posters.


Anti-drugs Communication  
Anti-drugs Communication  

Research booklet