Teen Voices Central to the Above the Influence Campaign


Jun 07, 2010, 16:30 ET from White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

BRONX, New York, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today launches a new, nationwide campaign encouraging teens to engage in a conversation about the positive and negative pressures that influence their decisions.  The Influence Project is part of a new emphasis on teens who are central to the anti-drug teen brand, Above the Influence.  This emphasis includes hearing directly from teens about what they do to resist drug use and stay "above" negative influences.

The Above the Influence brand has been refreshed to include broadened messaging to focus on substances most abused by teens, and delivers both broad prevention messaging at the national level and more targeted efforts at the local community level.  The Influence Project kicks off in the Bronx and travels to two other pilot markets in June – Portland, OR and Milwaukee, WI – with 20 other markets slated for later in 2010.  As part of this effort, teens will engage in a series of activities that allow them to express themselves – from designing the next ATI advertising, to registering their input around influences on a map of the country, www.AbovetheInfluence.com/HeatMap, so  they can see what teens around the country are experiencing.  The three communities with the highest number of entries on the "Influence Map" will receive a special promotional event from the Above the Influence team in their hometown.  

In youth activities already underway in three pilot markets (Bronx, Portland, and Milwaukee) teens revealed that influences in media and their immediate social and physical environment – ranging from crime to others' use of drugs and alcohol – can negatively impact their ability to make healthy decisions about resisting pressure to use drugs.  "Teens have always been exposed to negative influences through media or friends, but now they are getting those messages in a multitude of ways, including online with social networking sites," said Gil Kerlikowske, ONDCP Director.  "Hearing from teens directly about what influences they need to resist and how helps us better focus on prevention efforts and work with local communities to keep our youth drug-free."

Among teens in the U.S., recent studies indicate that overall illicit drug use rates are flat following steady declines between 2002 and 2008.  But what's troubling about these studies is that more teens are saying they see less risk in using drugs, including marijuana, heroin, and LSD once or twice a week.  Further, the abuse of prescription drugs is an increasing problem, across age groups and in every demographic.  Data from the latest Monitoring the Future Survey, indicates that 7 of the top 10 drugs abused by 12th graders are prescription drugs.  

For the past five years, since its creation, teens have proudly identified themselves as Above the Influence.  They have embraced the brand, recreating commercials and using the logo in local artwork and on popular social networking sites.  New TV ads are running on the ABC Family Network, MTV, VHI, and others across the country, as well as in teen-focused magazines such as Seventeen, Transworld, Rise, and others, in cinemas and online on Hulu, ChaCha, Pandora, and others.  Other advertising will run in the three pilot markets.  The new direction aims to balance broad prevention messaging at the national level with more targeted efforts at the local community level.  The new advertising was created in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with pro bono advertising provided by three advertising agencies: Draftfcb (Ordinary Day), Vigilante (Diner), and McGarry Bowen (Stage Hands).  

Since its inception in 1998, the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens, and communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use.  Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

SOURCE White House Office of National Drug Control Policy