In an internecine wrangle between the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which oversees the nation’s antidrug advertising campaign, and the Partnership for Drug Free America, which coordinates the work of some forty ad agencies that donate pro bono creative work but charge for costs incurred, the latter appears to have won the day.
The PDFA has been actively lobbying for a $10 million reduction in the antidrug campaign’s annual budget (previously $180m), arguing that creative-review process mandated by the ONDCP is unnecessarily bureaucratic.
A panel of the House Appropriations Committee voted Thursday in favor of the cut, not only reducing the budget for the year ahead to $170m but insisting that all but $20m of that sum is allocated to campaign media purchases.
To date, agencies’ costs and media buys have been met from the campaign’s budget – as was an extensive public relations drive, a media evaluation program, a dedicated antidrug website and online ads on other sites. In addition there was a discrete $2.5m grant for research.
Following the vote, the research grant is likely to be axed and a further $7.5m lopped from the budget – seemingly a victory for the PDFA, which lays blame for the campaign’s lack of success on the ONDCP's cumbersome creative review process.
Representative Ernest Istook (Republican, Oklahoma), chairman of the panel which voted to move the ONDCP’s reduced budget to the full HAC, said the intention is to cut “exorbitant” administrative overheads. The panel additionally argues that the program’s continuation should depend on the ONDCP showing that the campaign reduces youth drug use.
The ONDCP countered that the proposed reduced budget would not give it sufficient funds to fulfil Congress’s remit to pay agencies’ creative costs and assess the efficacy of the program.
Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff