"Patsy" Teaches Parents How to Talk With Their Kids About Drugs

What would you do if your mom brought a drug-sniffing dog into your bedroom? It’s one of the off-the wall actions of “Patsy,” a well-intentioned, high-energy mother determined to go to any length to keep her kids from using drugs and alcohol. The character “Patsy” is the star of a series of home-video style television spots the Partnership for a Drug-Free America launches this week to steer parents toward the right way to talk to their kids about drugs. Hill Holliday New York, a top national communications agency, crafted the campaign and its impactful tagline: Don’t be a Patsy. Learn a better way at drugfree.org

In the spots and webisodes, Patsy not only uses a sniffing dog; she sneaks up on her teen son in the shower, drills him on drug facts, demonstrating a benevolent, police-style “Patsy pat-down.” Patsy also shows off her own method for preventing abuse of prescription medications – she removes the labels from every bottle in the medicine cabinet.

“Parents want help to prevent their kids from using drugs and alcohol, but most don’t know what to say or how often to talk about this important health issue,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership. “Our research shows that just like Patsy, many parents aren’t getting the real support or factual information they need to have a impact on the choices teens make. Hill Holliday’s great work is a lighthearted but important step to bring parents to drugfree.org for much-needed tools and advice.”

“By creating Patsy, a mom who gets it all wrong, we allow real moms to laugh at themselves and realize they don’t have all the answers,” says Alon Shoval, Hill Holliday’s executive creative director. “And by launching Patsy virally, the message is relatable, entertaining, and doesn’t come across as a lecture.” Recent research findings show an increased need for parents to find a way to talk with their kids.

— Partnership research shows that 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription painkiller to get high. In fact, today’s teenagers are more likely to have abused prescription medications than illicit drugs like Ecstasy, meth, and heroin.

— According to data from the 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), half of all parents (51 percent), with kids in 6th-8th grade, feel they lack the tools and information to prevent drug and alcohol use

— According to the 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study of teens, the number one reason teens see for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. In this nationally projectable study (margin of error +/- 1.6 percent), 73 percent of teens reported that school stress is the primary reason for drug use.

The fully integrated “Patsy” campaign – the first of its kind for the Partnership – is a component of a greater Partnership effort to establish drugfree.org as the go-to resource for parents to find answers to their questions and get support and advice. Through television, print and Patsy’s own YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/PatsyVideos, the Partnership and Hill Holliday hope Patsy will motivate parents to “learn a better way”, and get smarter about engaging with their own teens.

The “Patsy” campaign consists of four 30-second and two 15-second TV spots, five “webisodes” for YouTube, one radio spot and 2 print executions. Hill Holliday New York also developed Interactive banners, which link to the Partnership’s parent resources at www.drugfree.org/parent.

About the Partnership

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, renowned scientists and communications professionals to help families raise healthy drug-free kids. Best known for its research-based national public education programs, the Partnership motivates and equips parents to prevent their children from using drugs and alcohol, and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble. Learn more at drugfree.org.

About Hill Holliday

Hill Holliday, owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies and headquartered in Boston with offices in New York, Miami and Greenville, S.C., is one of the top communication agencies in the nation. Hill Holliday has won every major award for advertising excellence and effectiveness and has among its roster of clients leading national and regional brands including Anheuser-Busch, AOL, Bank of America, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Cleveland Clinic, Covidien, CVS/pharmacy, Dunkin’ Donuts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Liberty Mutual, The Massachusetts State Lottery, Novartis, Partners HealthCare, Procter & Gamble, the Rockport Company, TJX Companies, and Verizon Wireless. Hill Holliday can be found on the Web at www.hhcc.com.

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