Last week, the NSW Government, in conjunction with St Vincent’s Alcohol and Drug Information Service, released its ‘hip’ new anti-marijuana social media campaign aimed at teenagers. It has videos with sloths, yes sloths(?!), a swanky website, and even a Facebook and Tumblr page … you know, to get down with the youth.
It took a blink of an eye for the campaign to go off the rails, and down in flames, as the youth found this latest government effort – hilarious.
#StonerSloth started to trend on social media, but for all the reasons not intended by the creators of the campaign, rumouredly Saatchi & Saatchi.
Do I detect a not-so-subtle protest against the campaign by its own creators? Otherwise, it beggars belief a professional campaign agency would have missed such a basic issue.
The three videos released as part of the campaign, depict marijuana using teens as sloths. One struggles to complete a test at school, another can’t identify the salt shaker at the dining table, and the third is spaced out at a party.
Although the Premier of NSW, Mike Baird is already using social media to distance himself from the #StonerSloth anti-marijuana campaign, if social media is anything to judge by, the campaign unleashed by the … NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, is likely to become one of the most ridiculed anti-drugs campaigns of all time.
But this is how the internet responded:
The comments on the campaign’s Facebook page were also a mix of confusion and amusement:
Visitors to the Stoner Sloth Facebook page were utterly confused whether it was satire or a genuine anti-drugs campaign.
Already, a ‘Pass The Salt’ T-shirt is available from Redbubble for those who wish to take their ridicule to the streets.
The T-shirt is an homage to one of the campaign videos which depicts a young marijuana user struggling to identify the salt shaker on the family dining table.
The ridicule attracted by the campaign also resulted in the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre asking the NSW Premier’s Department to retract its claim the Centre’s research lay behind the campaign, and making it clear the ‘campaign doesn’t reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached’.
I understand the campaign is not intended to air on television, and perhaps that’s for the best.
Despite the public ridicule, the campaign is no laughing matter, because no doubt significant public funds were extended on a ridiculous, ineffective campaign. Funds that probably would have been better spent on effective drug education, informed by experts and science, and harm minimisation.
Perhaps we can be comforted by the fact that #StonerSloth is probably still not the most ridiculous anti-drugs campaign ever attempted.
Who could ever forget this late 90s effort to ‘warn'(?!) of the dangers of meth …