Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Low-Key Anti-Smoking Ads Are More Likely to Be Remembered than Attention-Grabbing Messages

The Drug Education Forum is interested in the impact of public health messages, as the evidence suggests that well planned public health campaigns add value to drug education in schools and other settings.

So, while this research isn’t about young people specifically it is interesting.

Televised PSAs [public service announcements] are an important element of campaigns that promote smoking cessation, drug abuse prevention, and other public health causes. Some PSAs take a low-key, “just the facts” approach to conveying their message, while others use attention-grabbing features such as fast pacing with frequent cuts, dramatic narration, bright colors, loud music, and shocking or surprising visual images. This study found that regions of the brain associated with attention (the frontal cortex) and memory (the temporal cortex) were more active when participants were watching the low-key PSAs compared to the more dramatic attention-grabbing PSAs.

You may remember that when NICE looked at this issue they decided that “vivid” communications which elicit fear was evidenced enough for them to be able recommend them.

Perhaps this research should give them pause for thought.

You can find the accademic paper here.

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