Australian Anti-Cannabis Ad Campaign Backfires

The New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet in Australia released an anti-marijuana ad campaign this past week, depicting stoned teenagers as incompetent, oversized sloths.

The ads are comical in their absurdity, and have evoked a mocking reaction from the Australian public. Already dozens of parody videos of the “stoner sloths” have popped up on Youtube. Adweek calls the campaign by prominent Australian ad company Saatchi & Saatchi “tone-deaf.”

Though Australia’s National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre was originally linked with the ads, they have now distanced themselves from the bizarre ad campaign, according to The Guardian. The NCPI states they were only consulted briefly before development.

“In this case, those general recommendations were things like being aware that teenagers are intelligent and have access to a lot of information, so campaign approaches should respect them and give them credit by avoiding hyperbole,” the statement said.

The “stoner sloth” ad campaign did the exact opposite of avoiding hyperbole and respecting the intelligence of teenagers, and now NCPIC is demanding the NSW government remove their name from the ads.

“NCPIC was not consulted on any of the creative elements of this campaign,” said NCPIC director Jan Copeland, “They have used our name to cover this campaign … We are going to ask them to print a retraction that it is based on work that we did.”

In a strange twist, one of the ads even appears to be promoting alcohol use as a “party-friendly” alternative to weed. In the ad titled “Life of the party… said no one ever,” the incomprehensible groaning of the stoned sloth turns off his more fun, party-going friends—all of whom are carrying red plastic cups, the international symbol of alcohol at house parties.

Photo Credit: Screen capture from

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