Monday, May 14, 2007

Now its cannabis and gay incest

Here's one we haven't seen before. Throughout the long history of reefer madness this one has to be the weirdest yet. A new short for MTV Canada, reported in the Toronto star attempts to dissuade young people from driving stoned. Itself a perfectly laudable goal, but the new ad's approach is to present an every day cautionary tale suggesting that your judgment after smoking a bong will be so compromised you will engage in a homoerotic kiss with your same sex sibling. And if you're so wasted you're snogging your brother, well obviously you really shouldn't be driving.

watch it here

You'd be forgiven for asking what the hell this is about. I feel fairly certain that a search of Pubmed will show no papers linking cannabis and gay incest. No - this is a classic attempt at the modern art of viral Internet marketing. In terms of exposure, it clearly works - I'm blogging it, your reading about it and probably watching it, some of you will tell others about it, and on it goes. The film makers, none other than uber-agency Satchi and Satchi, are not a stupid bunch. They've thought this through; they know you can massively magnify an ad's exposure by including enough controversy or shock value to ensure the ad itself becomes the story. So far, so cynical.

But, you have to ask - will the ad, either in its original TV slot or in its Internet afterlife, achieve anything more than lots of viral exposure. The so-clever-it-hurts Satchi execs clearly know all about exposure, but do they know how to reduce the level of driving under the influence? Do they measure outcomes? Do they care? Anti-drink driving campaigns have been highly effective in the past, so its not as if the film makers had nothing to base this pathetic effort on.

The obvious problem with the film is that it's completely ridiculous, and fails so spectacularly to chime with reality or the experiences of its target audience that the possibility then exists of its safe driving message actually being undermined. 'Kids' don't like being patronised, and we have long and rather tragic history of failed anti-drug campaigns devised by 'grown-ups' to prove it.

8 comments:

JQH said...

Does it not occur to these people that if they persist in talking complete rubbish that teenagers can see through, then they risk said teenagers not believing them when they are talking sense?

Bob said...

Definitely - generations of kids have ignored government warnings about drugs because they have largely been rubbish.

As for this, I'm just mystified as to what they thought this would achieve, apart from a bit of boarderline homophobia.

Steve R said...

yeah - there is something rather discomforting about the homophobia angle. Its just wrong in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

i know,i know but my brother does seem to get more and more handsome with every bong...

Shawn said...

I think the ad is hilarious. Effective? I was laughing so hard I missed the "don't toke'n'drive" moral of the story the first time round.

I could see this as an ad for some future brand-name pot. Just draw a mustache on the guy at the end print "The Captain was here! Bacardi High"

SciencePunk said...

In fairness, it's difficult for Government warnings to tell the straight story on drugs because the reasons for banning them are so illogical. At school we were given leaflets that advised not to use cannabis because:
"The tobacco smoked with it can cause lung cancer". (Hash cakes anyone?)

This is all the more strange because the dangers of driving stoned are clearly real and don't have to be sensationalised to confer that message. Seems like a waste of money to me...

Ian S said...

But remember the ACMD assessment of the research that driving under the influence of cannabis was less risky than alcohol because drivers tended to be risk averse and over estimate their speed ( even if they couldn't remember where they were going or why)!

Bob said...

Ian S; In tests of that nature low doses of cocaine actually seem to increase a drivers performance. Though that suspect message doesnt make it into drugs education.

(anything more than a very low dose does lead drivers to be reckless and dangerous)