What’s Your Favourite Cheesy Scaremongering Anti-Drug PSA?

by Jaime Weinman

In lieu of something else to talk about at the moment, I’ll open up the floor for discussions of and/or links to the great scaremongering anti-drug Public Service Announcements, from the Partnership For a Drug-Free America or otherwise.

The ad that freaked me out the most as a kid was one I’ve never been able to find again: it had an anguished father screaming about how he knew drugs were dangerous, but he didn’t tell his son until it was too late. The camera pulls out and (as I recall) we see that he’s standing over his son’s grave. The lesson in this commercial, aimed at parents, is that if you don’t scare your kids, they will die. Nothing manipulative about that.

While I couldn’t find that one, I did find my runner-up, one of the PFaD-FA’s more artsy ads. What I like about it is that it makes it seem like being a junkie will make you run really fast and fall really gracefully, so the unintentional message of the ad is: if you want to be a track star or a ballerina, take drugs!

I also like this one about what happens to your brain on The Demon Marijuana, which I think is much funnier than the famous “brain = egg” ad:




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What’s Your Favourite Cheesy Scaremongering Anti-Drug PSA?

  1. What strike's me is how tame the 80s ads are compared to the work safety commercials we have been seeing in Ontario over the past 18 months. Those ads freak me out and I am not a kid anymore.

  2. Growing up in the US, the infamous "this is your brain on drugs" PSA often prompted a trip to Denny's.

  3. I love the brain activity ad!

    By the logic of that ad, not only should you never smoke pot, you should never drink.

    Or meditate.

    Or sleep…

    (Also funny? The Wikipedia site for "Partnership for a Drug Free,,," says that they were forced to pull that ad because that's most emphatically NOT the EEG of a pot smoker's brain that they showed).

    Was there not a study recently that showed that those old ads actually tended to INCREASE drug use rather than decrease it? (Presumably because their over-the-top rhetoric was so unbelievable that once you felt the Partnership was lying to you in the ads, you then assumed that EVERYTHING they said to you is a lie. If they're willing to lie to me about how bad pot is, why should I believe them when they say heroine should be avoided?)

  4. It just occurred to me that by leaving everything else the same but changing the narration just slightly, that last ad could be an ad in FAVOUR of drugs.

    VOICEOVER: "This is the brain activity of an annoying 14 year old brat. Now, here's the brain activity of a 14 year old brat on Ritalin. If your kids aren't using drugs, you're not using your brain.

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