Ad Space – Don’t Buy Pot … Or Novelty Coin Banks

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Anti-marijuana public service announcement

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
Marijuana is a gateway drug to harder substances … like kitschy collectibles.

For the second time (but, I assure you, far from the last) we journey into that bizarre nebula within Ad Space known as the Public Service Announcement. Ads that don’t promote a product to purchase or a service to hire, but instead attempt to raise awareness and change attitudes about social problems.

In this case, it’s to convince people not to use marijuana. Which is a tough pitch to make compared to other anti-drug PSAs. There aren’t any horrific overdoses or crippling addictions you can scare people with, so the anti-pot crowd has to find other strategies.

Some focus on the Johnny-Law-will-bust-your-ass approach. I remember one post-9/11 ad that harped on how buying a joint could indirectly fund terrorism. And, of course, there was the memorable case of weed causing spontaneous deflation in teenagers.

But this ad … I kinda admire its low-key approach to the matter. It doesn’t try to hype up the stakes, try to tell you pot only brings life-ruining despair into people’s lives. It’s honest about the fact that marijuana is really a very mild psychotropic drug … but it is still a psychotropic drug. You might not go on a Reefer Madness-style freakout, but you are likely to do some dumb stuff while high that you’ll regret once you come down. Even if it’s just spending $300 on surfing monkey coin banks.

I admire the ad, but if the YouTube comments are anything to go by, it was not at all effective. The consensus there seems to be that blowing all that money on surfing monkeys? Worth it, if you have as much fun doing it as the stoners in the ad seem to.

The brains behind this PSA didn’t seem to realize that, for much of their target audience, having stories to tell about the stupid stuff they did while high is a badge of honor.