Blink Worldwide provides online component for ‘Brain on Drugs’ campaign

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Television viewers of a certain age remember the public service announcement of the 1980s that found a man announcing that an egg symbolized one’s brain, a heated frying pan “drugs,” and upon cracking the egg into the pan and watching it fry, intoning “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

An instant classic — TV Guide named the spot one of the top 100 television ads of all time — the PSA, produced by the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America, has gone on to be the subject of innumerable quotations and parodies ever since. But as a new PSA from the renamed Partnership for Drug-Free Kids demonstrates, there are in fact plenty of questions being posed by children, including “Is weed safer than alcohol?” and “Prescription drugs aren’t as bad as street drugs, right?” The ad culminates with one youngster asking: “Mom, Dad, did you ever try drugs?”

As part of the new “Fried Egg 2016” initiative, Norwalk-based marketing agency Blink Worldwide was tasked with adding a social media-friendly component to the campaign. The result, titled “Drug Test” at drugtest.drugfree.org, launched on Sept. 6. Consisting of five multiple-choice questions patterned after the TV spot, as of Sept. 13 it had been taken by roughly 2,800 people, 2,200 of whom completed it for a 77 percent completion rate.

The participation number is expected to steadily climb higher as word gets around social media platforms, Blink partner Adam Smith said.

“People going through their social stream are seeing ‘I took a drug test,’ which stops them in their tracks,” he said.

The mom and dad angle is particularly resonant, added group account director Erik Schroeder. “Adam has four girls and I have two girls and a boy, and we thought, ‘Wow, how do you answer that question?’ We found the same response across the agency.”

“No one ever questioned the question” posed at the end of the original PSA, Smith said. “There’s so much going on now, from legalizing marijuana to new types of drugs with new names. You can’t keep it straight. I didn’t even know what Molly was before we got involved with this,” he said, referring to the new spot’s “Molly just makes you feel happy. What’s wrong with that?” query, utilizing the term for MDMA or ecstasy.

Blink’s work with the partnership stemmed from Schroeder’s involvement as a volunteer at the organization. “They mentioned that the 30th anniversary of the ad was coming up and were looking for advice to revive it, and I suggested that we jump in,” he said.

The partnership and Blink worked “in a completely collaborative way,” Schroeder said. “We worked closely with each other with the design, the direction and the content.”

Though pleased with the results so far, Blink has been struck by one number in particular: 95 percent of those completing the test got all five questions right.

“The wording tends to give away the right answer,” Smith admitted. “We’re going to start putting up harder questions this week to engage and educate (participants) a little more.” The number of questions will remain the same — “You want to have something that people can complete on their phones within 60 seconds or else you lose them,” he said — as will the two- or three-sentence explanations for why each answer is right or wrong.

Although Blink’s roster is filled with impressive for-profit names like Marriott, KPMG and Adobe, Smith said, “We’ve always had a component of working with groups that are in the business of doing good, whether it’s this, green energy or sustainability. We like to have something going on in that space at any given moment.” He estimated that about 10 percent of the company’s business is done for nonprofits, with all work on the Fried Egg campaign done on a pro bono basis.

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