The longest running anti-drug campaign in the UK is Talk to Frank. Has it managed to get people to quit substance abuse?
The drug education in the entire UK received a total turn around ten years back when the police Swat team ran into a rural kitchen somewhere in the UK. People were seriously warned to stay away from the drug peddlers around sports arenas and that they could be destroyed by drugs. In came strange humour and a light, yet energetic approach.
In the first advertisement a teenager phoned a police team to detain his mother when she proposed that they had a peaceful discussion regarding drugs. The message delivered by the advert had not been heard before either: "Drugs are illegal. Talking about them isn't. So, Talk to Frank."
Frank: Cordial Private Drug Guidance
One can actually say that Frank which was a brain child of "Mother" ad firm became the new National Drugs Helpline It was supposed to represent a trusted, big brother figure that young people could call for advice about drugs. Frank is has become a household name among the young people due to the many adventure stories that came from the theme such as Pablo the drugs mule dog to a tour of the brain warehouse.
The agency behind Frank has said that it was crucial that Frank was never actually seen so he could never be the target of ridicule for wearing the wrong thing or trying to be cool. Even the YouTube videos that spoof Frank are respectful. As there is nothing that remotely suggests Frank is a government project, the campaign is viewed as a first occurrence funded by the government.
Right from the days of Nancy Reagan, a lot has been done about drugs education, and the Grange Hill cast which a lot of people opine that it did more harm than good, simply encouraged people to "Just Say No" to drugs.
Majority of the ads in Europe now follow the footsteps of Frank in trying to be sincere and allowing the teenagers the right to choose. You still see pictures of prison bars and upset parents, though, in countries where dealing drugs will get you in serious trouble with the law. One late battle in Singapore told youthful clubbers: "You play, you pay."
In the United States of America, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on a long-running campaign, Above the Influence, that sells positive possibilities to using substances by making use of a combination of funny and cautionary stories. The stress is on chatting to youngsters by using their language - one advertisement depicts a group of "stoners" forsaken on a couch. But the scare tactics is still prevalent in majority of the campaigns against drugs around the globe, especially the "descent into hell" which is drug inspired. One typical example was a part of the Canadian DrugsNot4Me program showed an attractive, confident young woman then into a wasting, hollow eyes shadow at the hand of drugs.
According to studies into a United States anti-drugs campaign between 1999 and 2004, advertisements showing the undesirable effects of substance abuse can frequently urge younger people who are marginalised to experiment with substances.
Frank made brand new ground - and received a lot of criticism from the conservative opposition politicians at that time - for being brave enough to put forward that substances might provide highs and lows.
"Cocaine makes you feel on top of the world" was used in one of the early internet ad campaigns.
Understanding the true information behind the message was very difficult. Matt Powell was the creative director of digital agency Profero, the company that came up with the cocaine ad; he now thinks he miscalculated the time an average user spends on browsing the internet. The negative effects were given at the end of the animated ad and some viewers might not have watched the whole thing. However, Powell says the point was to be more legitimate with youngsters about medications, keeping in mind the end goal to build up the believability of the Frank brand.
According to the Home Office, up to 67% of teenagers preferred to talk to Frank if drug advice becomes necessary. A total of 225,892 calls were made to the Frank helpline and a total of 3,341,777 visits to the site in 2011/12. It is evidence that the method is effective.
Though the response is good, it is no evidence that Frank just like other available anti-drug campaigns has discouraged people from indulging in drugs.
In the years since the campaign started, drug use in the UK is down by 9%; however, experts say this might be because marijuana use has declined, most like due to changing attitudes toward smoking tobacco.
What Is Frank?
FRANK was launched in 2003 as a collaborated effort of the Department of Health and Home Office of the British government as a national drug education service. It's supposed to reduce the use of illegal and legal substances by teaching teens about the possible effects of alcohol and drugs. A lot of media campaigns have been put out on both the radio and the internet.