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October 9, 2003


Westchester Using Archie and Jughead to Curb Teen Drinking

So Westchester County is going to use Archie, Jughead, and Veronica in a new public awareness campaign aimed at reducing teen drinking. [nyt] The idea is incomprehensible in its stupidity. After all these years, this is the best they can come up with? Are squeaky-clean stereotypes of white kids from the 1950s the best possible way to connect with kids nowadays? If you're going to spend $210,000 on ads, literature, and curriculum materials, couldn't you be a little more creative? I thought that the way to curb behavior in kids was to appeal to their vanity and have their peers show that the behavior isn't cool. In what possible way can Archie and Jughead have a psychological impact on these kids? Let me ask you something: would having Batman or Spider-Man comics with an anti-drinking message have an impact on the kids? Probably not. So how is it possible that Archie and company would? And what's worse, instead of having the characters convey messages that matter, the campaign seems to revolve around telling the kids they'll "get in trouble", as in this ad:

Drinking can get you in trouble. If you use false ID to get a drink you are committing a misdemeanor and can be arrested. Do you want that on your record when you apply to college or for a job?
Ooh, committing a misdemeanor! Wow, that'll really resonate with the kids. Besides, do job applications actually ask if you've been arrested for a misdeamor? Instead of concentrating on the legal consequences of drinking, the campaign should focus on the social and emotional damage that underage drinking causes.

People who come up with programs like this need to get out of whatever dreamworld they inhabit and actually start talking to the kids about why they drink, and crafting their messages around that. Wouldn't a message from a kid whose life was ruined by alcohol be a thousand times more effective than some legalistic crap thrown at them by stale comic book characters they've never heard of?

categories: Health
posted by adm at 10:41 AM | #


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