display | more...

"Drugs are only for cool kids" was a abortive series of anti-drug Public Service Announcements researched and launched in the late 1980's. The commercials were only test marketed in a number of markets --- Cleveland, El Paso and the tri-cities before they were nixed for a number of reasons.

Through the "Just Say No" era of the 1980s, the majority of drug abuse education aimed at children was based around the idea that peer pressure was one of the basic reasons children experimented with drug use. But despite years of trying to strengthen kids self-esteem, they still seemed to want to use drugs.

One clever media consultant decided to use a strategy of using children's innate concern with social hierarchy to good use. Children were aware that they were not cool. And they were aware that the cool kids did, indeed, use drugs. From that idea "Drugs are only for cool kids" was developed. There were a few commercials story-boarded, and one of the filmed ones went like this:

Scene: a picnic table outside of a middle school cafeteria, where some children in stereotypical late 80s gear are laughing and passing a joint around, reveling in their good fellowship. The group shows a few conspicuously attractive girls, with feathered bangs and stone-washed denim skirts.
A nerdy looking kid, with plain clothing approaches them. He is visibly younger and smaller and less attractive.
Nerdy looking kid: "Hey guys, is that pot? I like smoking pot!"
Cool jock guy in Ocean Pacific shirt: "Oh, okay, if you think you can handle it!"
Nerdy looking kid takes the joint, gives a puff on it, and starts crying, clutching his head.
Cool kids, including prominently the cutest girls: Laughing at nerdy boy, who runs off in shame.
Scene fades away, followed by tag line: Drugs. They are only for cool kids.

Although a bold and interesting conceptual stroke, and one that arguably couldn't have produced much worse results than the proceeding decade's impotent PSAs, the advertisements backfired when they were seen as condoning drug use amongst "the cool kids", even if they are a small subset of school age children. It could also be argued that the commercials, coming when they did, had a somewhat outmoded version of what "cool" was, showing the stereotypical late-80s version of "rad", rather than the emerging "grunge" style. For whatever reason, due to outcry from various sets of moral guardians, the commercials were never able to prove their effectiveness.

Since they were only broadcast narrowly, and few recordings were made of them, finding a version of the commercials online is a challenge, although they do pop up from time to time, especially on sites dedicated to commemorating the kitsch of the "war against drugs". If you do manage to find one, you are in for an amusing treat.

LieQuest 2013

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.