Trump Wants New Anti-Opioid PSA Campaign To "Engage And Enrage"

By Victoria Kim 06/06/18

The White House's new ad campaign will echo the “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” ad campaign first launched in 1987.

Donald Trump

The Trump administration’s anti-opioid ad campaign is coming soon, according to Axios.

The PSA campaign, the product of a partnership between the White House and the Ad Council, will “shock the conscience,” a source disclosed to Axios. They added, “[President Trump] thinks you have to engage and enrage.”

The president declared in March that the government will oversee a “large-scale rollout of commercials” to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid abuse.

“The best way to beat the drug crisis is to keep people from getting hooked in the first place. This has been something I have been strongly in favor of—spending a lot of money on great commercials showing how bad it is,” said Trump at the time.

“So that kids seeing those commercials during the right shows on television or wherever, the internet, when they see these commercials they [say], ‘I don’t want any part of it.’ That is the least expensive thing we can do. Where you scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials and we will make them very, very bad commercials. We will make them pretty unsavory situations and you have seen it before and it had an impact on smoking and cigarettes.”

Indeed, research has estimated that the anti-smoking campaign by the Truth Initiative has prevented approximately 301,930 young Americans from smoking in 2015-2016. However, national anti-drug initiatives like “Just Say No” and “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” are generally considered unsuccessful in their attempts at keeping kids off drugs.

The new ad campaign will echo the “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” ad campaign first launched in 1987. According to Axios’ source, Trump is a fan of the ad’s shock value and stark message.

Since its debut, the ad has been re-made to feature Rachel Leigh Cook in a 1997 rendition. The actress appeared in a 2016 version of the ad as well, but this time to highlight a totally different message: “This is your brain on the war on drugs.”

Cook, in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance, resurrected the iconic egg and frying pan motif to bring awareness to all the ways that the War on Drugs is ruining people’s lives. “It fuels mass incarceration. It targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counterparts,” says Cook in the ad. “It cripples communities. It costs billions. And it doesn’t work. Any questions?”

The ad was re-made a different way in the same year, with the original anti-drug message but for a new generation. The ad begins with the familiar image of an egg cracking into a sizzling frying pan: “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

But instead of ending there, as the original PSA did, a child responds:

“Yeah, I have questions."

"Why is heroin so addictive?”

“Weed’s legal, isn’t it?”

“Prescription drugs aren’t as bad as street drugs, right?”

And finally: “Mom, Dad, did you ever try drugs?”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr