Can This Emoji Anti-Drug Campaign Finally Reach the Kids?

Old PSA's were dismally ineffective, but talking to teens in pictures could actually bridge communication barriers.

Kids today! Who can understand them with their EDM and their molly popping and their snapchatting! Am I right? But the olds at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids care, dammit. And they’re finally going to speak to teens in the one language they understand, emoji.

The campaign is kicking off in print, online, in theaters, even Times Square Billboards. Ideally teens will decipher the messages (“I’m tired of drinking to fit in”) and think, ‘They get me. They have cut me to the core.’

Silly maybe, but as much as 74 percent of the population regularly uses emoji in online communication and texting, so they were bound to appear in advertising sooner or later, and a campaign telling kids its cool not to be lit every weekend is about as tolerable an attempt as you could ask. And these campaigns can be tricky. The Washington Post reports that some past attempts relying on scare tactics may have actually increased viewers’ desires to try drugs. Talking to kids without preaching or condescending sounds the best way to communicate, be that in words or piles of smiling poop.

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