This is not about changing the public’s behavior as much as it is about funding the entertainment industry. How many millions of dollars is the public providing for ad agencies and TV networks? It’s as bad as the farm subsidies in my view.
Speaking of which:
A few years back, I worked in the media buying sector of the advertising industry. One of our largest clients was the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and other various government agencies…I helped to put together a combination of media buys totalling $500,000 plus for a campaign called ‘Play’. Yes, it was designed to get kids to go outside and play.
The money I saw spent doesn’t include the cost of creating the (really cheesy) ads, the cost of the agency managing the account, or the cost of having a division that spends their time putting together campaigns to tell kids to go outside and play.
And worse – I only worked on ad buys for about ten markets. It was a national campaign.
Nothing the government pays money to encourage people to do has surprised me since.
I did get some nice PSA stories. Someone says he thinks that all the advertising contributed to his quitting smoking, and someone else mentions the old crash-dummy safety belt ads.
I can’t say I remember this one:
Well, I recall one government funded PSA from about 20 years ago that depicted a guy in his 30s or 40s wheeling around on his three-wheel all terrain cycle and touting the virtues of having his government benefit check direct deposited into his account. It altered my behavior . . . made me even more suspicious of handouts for the able-bodied and more likely than ever to vote Republican!
I’d forgotten about this one, but as clever as it is, I doubt it’s stopped a single drunk from taking the wheel.
A reader provides the link for this one:
To this day, I don’t litter because of tear in that Indian’s eye. I mean, come on, he was canoing through old tires and someone threw a shake on his moccasin.
You ask if such ads ever had any affect on behavior. Well, I do recall that the “This is Your Brains on Drugs” ad made me hungry for a fried egg.
And from a clever liberal reader:
Question: “do government-funded public service announcements ever have a discernible impact on people’s behavior?”
Answer: “[The] infant formula industry…hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department to “tone…down the campaign.”
Can’t argue with that.