What Agri Marketers Can Learn from Anti-Drug Ad Campaigns


Beginning the late eighties the federal government spent millions of dollars over a two decade period on anti-drug ad campaigns aimed at young people.  Many of us will remember the famous “This is your brain on drugs” frying-egg ad.  The campaign continued for many years highlighted by a 2002 Super Bowl commercial.  The campaign finally ended in 2012 when Congress pulled the plug on funding.  Critics charged that the campaign was ineffective and the funds were redirected to other public service campaigns.

The final blow came in 2005 when a Texas State University professor found that the campaign might actually encourage drug use.  An Advertising Age article reported the “My Anti-Drug,” which focused on the negative consequences of drug use, to “Above the Influence,” which stresses personal autonomy. For instance, while the old campaign might have shown a boy getting busted for smoking pot in the restroom, the new approach featured scenes like a teen being manipulated by different people, until he walks away. The message: “Don’t give up the ability to decide for yourself.”

The failed government anti-drug campaign underscores a core advertising principle known as DAGMAR.  DAGMAR stands for Define Advertising Goals Measure Advertising Results.  In this extreme example the lack of the goal setting and establishment of benchmarks cost American taxpayers billions of dollars.

As we meet with agricultural clients we often discover many of clients have never developed a marketing plan that includes goals, strategies, benchmarks or budgets.  In some cases we learn clients have developed a budget but have no framework to measure the results.

In working with agri-businesses one of the key issues they’re struggling with is developing plans, setting budgets and measuring results.  This past year we helped numerous companies generate leads, extend their audience reach, and gain followers, resulting in new business.

If this is something you’re challenged with too, let’s set up a quick call. We have some ideas that might help. Call us at 863-248-7537.