Talk to Frank: Cannabis
Department of Health: ‘Talk To Frank’
Best Writing & Direction
£1m Creative Challenge
Frank is the UK government’s long-running anti-drug campaign, principally aimed at teenagers and promoted through radio, television and the internet. Frank provides 24 hour confidential support via a website, phoneline, email and an automated Live Messenger ‘chatterbot’ - as well as a counsellor and treatment location service.
Concerned with high levels of Cannabis use in the UK (particularly the use of ‘Skunk’ resin which is two to three times stronger than traditional resins), the Department of Health (DoH) targeted teenagers and young adults with the Anti-Cannabis ‘Talk to Frank’ campaign.
The campaign ensured that those most likely to use (or already using) cannabis were aware of all the potential effects, both highs and lows. By providing a fully rounded picture and avoiding a moralistic tone, the campaign avoided being ridiculed by the target market, a fate suffered by some earlier campaigns.
The Anti-Cannabis radio creative portrayed a ‘party in the mind’ of a cannabis smoker. The party starts well, but quickly degenerates as the personified negative symptoms of drug-taking (e.g. Paranoia and Mood Swings) gate crash the evening and wreck the party (representing the mind) of the user.
With a cast of 6-8 voices, all requiring strong direction, the campaign fully exploited radio’s ‘theatre of the mind’, bringing to life the feelings of stress and anxiety linked with cannabis use. The campaign admirably demonstrated the power of good radio creative in providing effective cut-through and has been received incredibly well by a target market that had previously become inured to the lecturing of anti-drugs messages.
“Which is more effective? As one of the teenagers that these adverts are meant to appeal to, I'd have to say 'FRANK'. It at least gives the impression that the information it's giving isn't biased and false - unlike a lot of the anti-cannabis campaigns we, as students, have to endure. The likes of 'Frank' …are the way forward; treating us like adults is more likely to get through than telling us to 'Just say no' without question.”
Brendan Bennett, Hertfordshire
(Reader comment on an online BBC article about Talk to FRANK).
As a result of similar encouraging feedback, the DoH is set to continue using this new FRANK tone into the foreseeable future.