Case Study: the Drug Problem

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Case Study: the Drug Problem

The Situation

As the drug problem becomes more and more serious yearly and the number of people involved into it grows, the American government cannot stay indifferent as the fate of the new generation is the fate of the whole nation. Consequently the PDFA has played a great role in creation of a drug-free America mostly by means of public-service advertising. They sent the anti-drug messages to people through television network, magazines, radio stations and all other kinds of media. Their campaign was launched in 1987 (Belch, 2004). Some tactics and approaches to their programs were criticized and marked as exaggerated. The government of the US got involved into the war with the drugs later in 1998, when it has approved the Media Campaign Act. Consequently, the national media campaign was held to reduce and prevent drug abuse among the Americans. The Office of National Drug Control Policy was the one that conducted this campaign. The judgments considering the effectiveness of the campaign were quite controversial. The PDFA and ONDCP disagreed about the necessary advertising type and the extent of different forms of integrated marketing communications. According to the PDFA, this campaign was quite simple at first, but has become a very politicized and complex process.

The Analysis

 The goals of the PDFA was to help kids and teens stop or avoid drugs abuse by influencing their attitude to it with the help of the persuasive information presented in commercials, print ads, radio spots. More than 30 TV commercials, numerous radio spots, 64 ads were used to gain success in PDFA campaign in the earliest years (Belch, 2004). However, there existed various beliefs and skepticism about too many stereotypes and melodramatics in their tactics. For instance, the schools bus drivers snorting cocaine, the messages like “one puff and you are hooked” messages and African-American boys being sellers of crack at school (Belch, 2004). Accordig to a number of studies, such scare tactics are not effective in changing attitudes and behavior of the people, and sometimes, on the contrary, it pushes them to do the opposite. Therefore, the reaction of people can depend on the peculiar features of the character, the social position and environment, the values and world view formed in the process of growing up and education. Therefore, it is essential to mark out that the increase in the usage of cocaine and heroin during that time was observed in the urban areas. In such a way, the location and the environment of the young people appeared to be influential for such choice. At the same time, the PDFA has proved that there still existed the connection between the growth of drugs disapproval among teenagers and advertising of the association (Belch, 2004). Such evidence was based on the survey of Partnership Attitude Tracking and showed that people do remember the anti-drug slogans and commercials. Anyway, it is quite logical that the increase of the drug usage led to decrease of the media support in 1991-1998.

In contrast to the previous one, the next anti-drug media campaign was coordinated by the White House and focused on the market segmentation. The realization of the difference between different segments of population, difference in drugs and their consequences made the ONDCP oriented at the specific target groups and specific consequences separately. The attention to differences in age, geographic, ethic, social and economic peculiarities should be regarded as the background for the further growth of success of this media campaign. However, the education of the younger and older generation was proven to be effective for parents, but had negative effect for teens, especially the girls of approximately 13 years old, who became curious in drugs after a great number of ads in 2002 (Belch, 2004). As a result, it becomes obvious that any advertisement should take into consideration the psychological peculiarities of different ages, genders, etc. Not only the values that can still be unformed, but the perception of new inforrmation is different among the younger generation. As a result, the consequences of the same media campaign can be different for different generations. At the same time, the emotional female adolescents appeared to be the most sensitive to the method of tries and failures. In such a way, the means to restrict them from some “adult information” and ways to represent it in a different way have to be found. Consequently, taking into consideration that anti-drug campaigns are mainly oriented at the younger generation, the testing of the commercial effectiveness on adolescent is one of the most important steps before its release in media. At the same time, it is more likely that the adults will understand the kids-oriented information properly rather than conversely. Moreover, the information presented to the young people should be additionally discussed, not only shown on TV or various ads. As a result, the proper choice of the necessary steps and the consequence of their implementation with regard to the age and gender peculiarities of people are crucial for creation of the effective media campaign. Otherwise, the advertising processes can become simply the waste of huge sums of money.

Section 7: IMC Strategies

Advertising is important as it assists the political issues and the social aims. However, one should also pay attention to the great expenses it needs. In 1998, the PDFA/ONDCP campaign comprised three different phases making up the relatively effective integrated marketing communications program and costing $20, $65 and $93 million accordingly (Belch, 2004). The first phase included evaluation through focus groups, phone surveys and community feedback; the second one was based on advertising; the third one included sports and entertainment events, brochures, movie and video trailers (Belch, 2004). The focus group pre-testing was marked out by many representatives as a very positive step. In such a way, it was proved that a marketing mix brings higher probability of reaching the goals and target audience.

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