Talk To Frank is an anti-drugs campaign in the United Kingdom that has been running for the longest time. But has it actually worked and stopped drug use?
A police Swat team in the UK burst into a kitchen of a quiet suburban home, and the results were a complete turnaround of the way drug education was done for good. Grim warnings about how drugs could mess you up and genuine pleas to resist the pushers that were creeping around every playground were gone. Instead, wit and fun including games were embraced.
The first advert presented an adolescent inviting the police to come and arrest his mum because the mum wanted them to talk about drugs. There was also a new message: Drugs are illegal. Talking about the isn't. So talk to Frank."
Frank: Cordial Private Drug Guidance
An idea that started with someone's mother, Frank was now the new name of the National Drugs Helpline. Young people were meant to feel Frank was a helpful elder brother they could trust and from whom they could seek advice on illegal drugs. The quests of Pablo, the dog that's used as a substance mule, to a tour around a brain warehouse have been put forward under the Frank name, making it a well-known trade name amongst the youth of the nation.
According to the creative director, Justin Tindall, of the advertising agency, Leo Burnett, it was important that Frank was at no time seen in the flesh so that he could never be the victim of ridicule for wearing the incorrect shoes or attempting to be "down with the kids". Even the YouTube videos that spoof Frank are respectful. As there is nothing that remotely suggests Frank is a government project, the campaign is viewed as a first occurrence funded by the government.
Teaching people about drugs is now approached in a different way, not like the days of Nancy Reagan in the UK and the cast of Grange Hill in the UK, who told us to "Just Say No" to drugs; it is evident this did not work.
Like the Frank campaign, most European ads now focus on giving unbiased information so that young people can make up their own minds. In some places where there are still tough penalties for possession, ads showing prison bars or disappointed parents are still the norm. One late battle in Singapore told youthful clubbers: "You play, you pay."
In the United States of America, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on a long-running campaign, Above the Influence, that sells positive possibilities to using substances by making use of a combination of funny and cautionary stories. In the ad, teenagers are communicated to in a manner they are familiar with, like some "stoners" being marooned on a couch. Though, an unexpected number of anti-drug campaigns all over the globe still resort back to strategies intended to arouse fear or alarm, specifically the substance-fuelled plunge to hell. One example is one of the DrugsNot4Me series in Canada that revealed how a very pretty confident woman slipped into deep-eyed wreck because of drugs.
Ads that reveal the dangers of drug abuse mostly push frustrated people into experimenting with drugs, according to a data from the anti-drugs campaign of the UK from 1999 to 2004.
By demonstrating how the drugs affect the use, giving the highs and lows, Frank was not supported by the Conservative politicians on the new path it had taken.
Cocaine makes you feel on top of the world was one of its preliminary ads online.
Balancing the message is not always easy to get right. According to the then creative director of digital agency Profero, Matt Powell, who designed the ad, he was wrong in believing that a normal web user has an adequate attention span. The negative effects were given at the end of the animated ad and some viewers might not have watched the whole thing. Establishing the integrity of the Frank brand by telling the youth the truth about drugs and their effects was the ultimate aim of the ad, Powell states.
According to the Home Office, 67% of younger people in a survey stated that they would ask Frank if they required advice on drugs. In 2011 and 2012, Frank received 225,892 calls and 3,341,777 visits to the website. The argument is that this is proof that the approach is working.
Though the response is good, it is no evidence that Frank just like other available anti-drug campaigns has discouraged people from indulging in drugs.
During the decade that the Frank campaign was introduced, drug abuse figures in the UK have reduced by 9%; however, much of the decline has been attributed to a reduction in the use of cannabis as the more youth shun smoking tobacco.
Frank - What Is It?
FRANK is a nationwide drug education programme designed and run by the British government's Department of Health in collaboration with the Home Office in 2003. It's supposed to reduce the use of illegal and legal substances by teaching teens about the possible effects of alcohol and drugs. A lot of media campaigns have been put out on both the radio and the internet.