What Is The Partnership For a Drug-Free America?

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a non-profit coalition of professionals from the communications industry whose mission is to reduce the demand for illegal drugs through media communication. The Partnership was formed in 1986 with seed money from the American Association of Advertising Agencies. At that time cocaine use was widespread.

We're made up of a small paid staff (right now we have 30 employees) and hundreds of volunteers -- people from the media, advertising agencies, production houses, talent guilds, and research and public relations firms -- who donate everything from the advertising itself to hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcast time and print space to carry our anti-drug public service messages.

Our main goal is to reduce drug use by educating the public -- primarily through our ad campaign -- that trying and using illegal drugs is a bad idea; that the risks outweigh way any benefits.

What is the State/City Alliance Program?

The Partnership's State/City Alliance Program has helped states and large cities around the country replicate our national advertising organization on the state and local levels. State drug prevention specialists and/or members of the private sector work together to develop a local coalition of volunteers to run the campaign. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America provides the creative work and ongoing counsel, while the state "partnership," usually led by one or a small team of project leaders, solicits the local media to run the Partnership's advertising messages for free. As part of the state campaign, all Partnership ads appear with the local organization's name.

As of May 1996, more than 40 states and cities have launched their their own media partnerships and another six are in various stages of development.

What are the Partnership's Reasons for Success?

The Partnership's ability to generate unprecedented levels of pro bono media support is attributable to four key factors:

  1. The Cause
    The illegal drug problem is deeply embedded in all the intractable social problems we face. This concern is particularly acute at the community level. The Partnership campaign is single-mindedly focused on this issue.
  2. Advertising
    The public service advertising messages the Partnership develops reflect the volunteer efforts of hundreds of advertising agencies across the United States. In developing the work, the best creative minds in the country have access to the most complete body of research on illegal drugs available. The result is a campaign of compelling messages with an unparalleled track record of consistent excellence. The media recognizes it to be effective advertising of the highest quality.
  3. Research
    The fact that the Partnership is research-based, including the strategies for all our advertising messages and the fact that we use market research to measure our effectiveness in the marketplace, is of enormous importance to the media. This accountability is a key factor in the process of allocating precious public service time and space.
  4. Sales Effort
    The Partnership aggressively asks the media to run our ads on television and radio stations, in newspapers and magazines for free. Staff members travel the country constantly presenting the greatly in this effort are the Partnership's Key Market Coordinators--a corps of dedicated volunteers in the top 40 and other markets across the country. In addition, the Partnership has extended its reach to local media through its State/City Alliance Program. It has been found that nothing is quite as effective in generating support as a personal visit to the media.

Scope and Capability

Creative Resources

The Partnership has access to the entire advertising industry. This means it has a nearly limitless supply of the best creative ideas in the country. At any given point in time, approximately 50-60 agencies are at work on Partnership messages.

Advertising Messages

The Partnership has in inventory hundreds of anti-drug public service messages. This material is frequently adapted for use in other, more specialized media. Messages are directed to a number of targets. Executions are aimed at general audiences (including children, teenagers, and their parents), the Mexican-American and Latino communities, and the workplace. All of this material is available not only to the media, but to any legitimate anti-drug organization or local coalition that will make productive, non-profit, use of it.