My Topics

4 April 2012

How to Make an Effective Antidrug Commercial Targeted at Teens

Keywords: persuasion, teens,

Antidrug commercials are most persuasive in changing teens’ attitudes toward the use of drugs when they change their physical state (i.e., makes them feel stimulated, excited, aroused) and elicit negative emotions, according to a study in the journal, Society for Prevention Research.

Take aways

  • Antidrug commercials can be effective in changing teens’ attitudes about drug use.
  • A successful antidrug commercial has to create a change in teens’ physical state (e.g., the person has to feel stimulated, excited, aroused) and has to elicit negative emotions.
  • Therefore, antidrug commercials should include physically stimulating elements (e.g., cuts from one scene to another, sound changes, action) and focus on the negative consequences of using drugs in order to be effective.

Study information

  • The question?

    What are the affective antecedents of perceived effectiveness of antidrug television messages?

  • Who?

    190 15- to 19-year olds (mean age: 17 years; 58% girls, 42% boys). Ethnic background: predominantly white.

  • Where?

    USA, Minnesota

  • How?

    Participants were shown ten (out of a total of 79) existing antidrug commercials (e.g., marijuana, heroin, cocaine). While participants were watching these commercials, they were asked to rate them. Based on these answers the investigators could judge whether a change in a person’s physical state occurred and whether a person had positive or negative feelings toward the advertisement.

Facts and findings

  • Teens saw antidrug commercials that changed their physical state and elicited negative emotions as the most persuasive in changing attitudes toward the use of drugs.
  • Most antidrug commercials (63%) elicited negative feelings among teens.
  • Teens who didn’t use drugs had a more positive attitude toward antidrug commercials than participants who did currently use drugs (every now and then).
  • 36% of the participating teens had ever used marijuana, and 17% had used marijuana during the last month.