“This Is Your Brain on Drugs,” 2016—New Ad Campaign Resurrects Silly Propaganda

By Patrick Hilsman

(the influence)

Oh, how times have changed. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is now called the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and it’s playing on the nostalgia of Millennials and Generation X-ers.

Many of us remember the organization’s “This is your brain on drugs” campaign: In its various iterations, the slogan has either bored teenagers or—in the case of Rachel Leigh Cook’s notorious kitchen-smashing PSA—tantalized them.

The campaign has long been mocked for its inaccurate, “Just Say No,” depictions of drugs and their effects. But now, it’s being dusted off by the marketing company BFG Communications.

Rachel Leigh Cook’s PSA ended with the disheveled star challenging, “Any questions?” The new version of the campaign follows that line with a series of open-ended questions like, “What makes heroin so addictive?” and “Prescription drugs aren’t as bad street drugs, right?”

“Any questions’ was the end. Now it’s the beginning,” BFG chief creative officer Scott Seymour tells The New York Times

There will also be new TV ads as well as digital video from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, with a voice-over from West Wing actress Allison Janney. Communication on this subject is vital. But while this new campaign may be an improvement on the original, it’s still resurrecting a regressive message that should have been left in the ’80s.

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