The social media campaign, Above the Influence (ATI), has recently changed its ways of reaching the public. The campaign, which works to discourage substance abuse, has turned from television advertising to social media, to spread its message.
When the Partnership at Drugfree.org launched Above the Influence in 2005, the campaign received $540 in federal funding from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) . But funding decreased in consecutive years, until stopping altogether in 2012. In order to continue campaigning, the Partnership turned to more affordable means, like social media.
ATI has high hopes for this change, since teens spend more time on social media than watching TV. The campaign will use popular mediums like Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook, which has nearly two million “Likes.”
The campaign has a unique strategy for attracting followers. The Partnership discourages substance abuse by urging kids to “stay true to themselves.” ATI found that merely saying “drugs are bad” is ineffective. Instead, the campaign suggests notions like drug use, for example, will cause kids who enjoy skateboarding to lose their abilities.
A new online campaign, “Made by Me,” is being held to encourage teen involvement. Teens can submit their ideas for the next ATI commercial and vote on submissions. The contest is being held until Aug. 16, when the winner will be announced. For the grand prize, ATI is offering a trip to New York to help with production and later, Washington for Above the Influence Day on Oct. 17.
Over the years, I’ve seen many thought-provoking ATI commercials. Commercials featured siblings ditching other siblings for drugs, and the emotional turmoil that followed. Or, teens that denied drugs were rewarded by strangers. The messages were clear.
Now, with the campaign turning to social media, the tactics need to be bolder, more eye-catching. For example, Instagram photos should contain powerful messages. Personally, I believe the transition will be successful. Since teens spend more time on social media than watching TV, they’re bound to come across ATI’s advertisements.
However, being the devil’s advocate, this may also prove ineffective. Parents and guardians are less likely to use social media than teens. When ATI commercials played during my teen years, my parents discussed substance abuse. If these commercials didn’t exist, these conversations may not have either. I feel it is detrimental for the campaign’s objective to not involve both parents and children.
There are pros and cons to the transition. On social media, teens can pass along their information. Tweets are re-tweeted, Instagram photos are re-posted and Pinterest content is re-pinned. On the other hand, all this re-posting could get lost in the online world. At least when the public service announcements play, the message is there; it’s clear. You are forced to watch the commercial as it interrupts your favorite show, but you can ignore an uninteresting Tweet.
When analyzing ATI’s transition along with my plan for Kut off Kids, I can see some parallels. It’s important to look at the targeted age demographic, which will dictate the mode of advertisement. I would look for ways to attract the 30+ demographic, the desired consumers. For this reason, social media like Twitter and Instagram is unnecessary, since they’re more teen-oriented.
First, I’d create a Facebook for consumers to learn about the product, but I wouldn’t disclose too much information. With too much information, teens could tamper with the app. I would also create a company website, which would be advertised alongside Facebook, Google and similar sites. Since these sites use algorithms to advertise content, it would pinpoint the consumer market. I would also develop commercial advertisements for the app, scheduling them to play early to midday, when children are at school or asleep.
I’m aware that Kut off Kids can’t be hidden from curious teens. Children will see the commercial, browse the Facebook and visit the website. But I’ll structure the app so only buyers can access the full amount of information pertaining to the app. My chief source of attracting consumers will be via the commercial, which is most likely to reach a large consumer base.