Encouraging drug use – or so it seems

The “Foundation for help against drug addiction” (“Fundación de Ayuda contra la Drogadicción”, or FAD in Spanish) puts out an advertisement campaign every so often in Spain to raise awareness about the problems that drug addiction can bring. At least that’s what they say.

Their latest campaign consists of images depicting cocaine and Ecstasy as attractive products, alongside very small (comparatively) messages that supposedly should make people realize that drugs are harmful. The messages state that cocaine will bring “60% more suffering for your couple per gram”, or claim that by consuming Ecstasy you “enter a daily draw for a car accident”. (see below)

First and foremost, advertisement (of drugs or anything else) is effective with attractive visual presentations, not thanks to textual messages. These FAD adverts against drug use do have a powerful image, which makes drugs attractive. The textual message that goes along is completely invalidated.

Secondly, the pretended irony in those messages is far too complicated for the target population (high risk potential drug users) to understand. The irony can even be regarded as “funny”, and thus the whole advertisement may look attractive, as an invitation to drug use.

Thirdly, the messages themselves are stupid. Cocaine consumption is sure to make your couple (but also your family, friends, and everyone else) experience an “increase in suffering” of far more than 60%. This message is bland, weak and moronic. The other message plays with appealing language (like “win a prize”) to say that you can win a car accident. Again a misleading message: if you’re on drugs and are driving, whatever happens is no accident: it has a clear cause and that’s your drug intake. Any injuries to life (yours or other people’s) are the result of drug use, and not of fate.

Why does the FAD put out such feeble campaigns? These adverts are almost counterproductive. One would think that they’re promoting drug use: The advert can be seen on bus stops across Madrid, and most of the time you only see the picture of the drug itself with its name in big letters. The simplistic messages supposedly condemning drug use are invisible, and thus all that remains is a big picture of drugs, as if promoting their use.

If they want to help society with an awareness campaign, the FAD should simply publish big banners stating the negative effects of drug use: heart disease, heart attacks, gastrointestinal complications, blurred vision, chest pain, fever, hallucinations, tremors, learning disabilities, depression, memory loss, or anxiety.

With their current campaign, the FAD seems to promote drug use. Ladies and gentlemen of the FAD: please remove this useless and pitiful campaign:

FAD Advert

FAD Advert

FAD Advert

FAD Advert

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