An ad campaign from Australia’s NSW government that depicts teenage marijuana users as sloths unable to perform everyday tasks has been criticised by medical experts and viewers.
The “stoner sloth” campaign, created by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi — which used a series of videos, GIFs, and social media posts to hammer home its anti-weed message — has gone viral since it launched almost a month ago, but it picked up pace over this weekend after scores of memes and parody versions of the ad were uploaded online, AdNews reported.
Critics said the campaign was “hopelessly bad” and “unintentionally hilarious,” according to AdNews.
Now The Guardian reports that Australia’s National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center (NCPIC) has sought to distance itself from the ads (although it did provide an initial basic analysis of previous anti-cannabis efforts and some general recommendations.)
In a statement, NCPIC said: “In this case, those general recommendations were things like being aware that teenagers are intelligent and have access to a lot of information, so campaign approaches should respect them and give them credit by avoiding hyperbole.”
The statement continued: “While NCPIC is an evidence-based body, and is happy to support the NSW Government with information and recommendations at any time, in this case it has been unfortunately implied in media that the Centre’s involvement was greater than it actually was. While we wish the NSW Government luck in future cannabis campaigns, the current Stoner Sloth campaign doesn’t reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached, as was implied by the media.”
The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) confirmed to Mashable Australia it was responsible for the campaign.
In statement the NSW DPC said: “The Stoner Sloth public awareness campaign has been designed to encourage positive behaviours in young people before bad habits start, and motivate discontinued use of cannabis before they become dependent.”
However, as The Guardian points out, that didn’t stop even NSW premier Mike Baird airing his bemusement about the campaign.
In a further embarrassment to the NSW DPC, the campaign also shares its name with an online cannabis store called “Stoner Sloth” which carries the tagline “Enjoy Every Smoking Experience.”
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