Late last year the New South Wales government rolled out a ‘stoner sloth’ anti-marijuana campaign. The public campaign was meant to dissuade teens from using marijuana. As seems to always be the case with this type of propaganda, it fell flat and offended a lot of people in the process. Essentially, the series of videos showed very stupid sloth type characters in everyday scenarios, trying to suggest that when teens use marijuana they are like the stupid, slow sloths.
The campaign was immediately criticized, with many critics pointing out that the videos would never be taken seriously by teenagers who are actually much smarter than members of the New South Wales government think they are. Alienating teenagers is never a good strategy, for anything. Teenagers deserve a serious conversation about marijuana use, and not one that cannot be taken seriously. So how much did the unsuccessful campaign cost taxpayers? Per The Guardian:
The “Stoner Sloth” advertising campaign cost the New South Wales government $350,000 and took 265 public servant work hours to pull together, according to details released under freedom of information laws.
The advertising campaign, which cast large, Chewbacca-like sloth characters in the roles of stoned teenagers to show the dulling effects of marijuana, was launched in December. It was widely derided for both message and execution, and was even described by the NSW premier, Mike Baird – whose Department of Premier and Cabinet managed the campaign – as “quite something”.
The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) distanced itself from the campaign, saying “the current stoner sloth campaign doesn’t reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached”.
What a waste of public resources. The ‘stoner sloth’ campaign was propaganda, and teens deserve better. Want to educate teens about marijuana use? Start by showing some respect, and not insulting their intelligence.