Vice Squad
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Not For the Squeamish

A little while ago Juan Non-Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy pointed to an Ad web site containing 10 advertisements that appear abroad but that are not suitable in one way or another for American audiences. Many of the ads, numbered one to ten, touch on vice. The first one has been deemed to be blasphemous; the second is arguably pornographic; the fourth, an ad for beer, is sexually explicit (in a manner of speaking); and, #8 is an ad for a men's (lads'?) magazine. But it is #3, an anti-drug ad, that is truly shocking and, for me at least, unwatchable. So "not for the squeamish" is meant to be taken literally -- even the still photo on the website is disturbing.

In the US, a private, non-profit group, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, has provided hundreds of anti-drug ads (including the "This is your brain on drugs" frying pan ad) since its founding in 1986. Recent Partnership ad campaigns can be viewed here. The Partnership frequently has been criticized for: (1) using scare tactics that do not reflect the reality of drug use; (2) taking money from alcohol, tobacco, and legal drug companies (apparently the Partnership has stopped accepting alcohol and tobacco company money); and (3) ignoring alcohol and tobacco in its anti-drug messages. Here's a critique from more than one decade ago.

Though it isn't vice-related, ad #9 is well worth the two-minute investment.

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