Feds to Buy Anti-Drug Campaign

September 26, 1997


Feds to Buy Anti-Drug Campaign

The PR firm Porter/Novelli has won a $915,000 contract with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, headed by drug czar Barry McCaffrey, to help plan a $100-million-plus national advertising campaign conceived by the Clinton Administration.

The firm has been retained to complete several tasks within 100 days. One is to study previous PR and advertising efforts on drug abuse, public health and teen issues. The firm will use its in-house staff--as well as paid and unpaid experts--to craft recommendations on the new campaign, said Edward Maibach, Porter/Novelli's director of research and social marketing. With a lot of advertising dollars at stake, a firm spokesman added, McCaffrey "wanted to look at some of the old ads to see which were the most effective."

In addition, Porter/Novelli is seeking to lay the groundwork for corporate and community participation in the campaign. Though the House recently approved $149 million for anti-drug advertisements, this is somewhat less than the $175 million sought by the Clinton Administration. "We're hoping to double it with corporate sponsorships," the spokesperson said.

To get the contract, New York City-based Porter/Novelli beat out about a dozen PR, advertising and consulting firms. The firm's Washington office does about 40 percent of its business with the government, including "a long history in social marketing--using communications in its myriad forms to promote pro-social behavior," Maibach said. "That was a factor in our selection."

"They need to have a big PR agency because they need this to be done within three months," the Porter/Novelli spokesperson said. "Someone coming from a government press office couldn't have done all of this in such a short time."

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