MDMA shock campaign ditched by NSW Health

 

NSW Health has ditched hard-hitting scare campaigns on ecstasy in favour of a "non-judgmental and positive" promotion called StayOK, for this festival season.

The government ran chilling TV ads last summer - in a rapid response to a handful of festival deaths - which featured a doctor explaining how a tube would be stuffed down your throat as your heart stopped if you had an overdose.

But they will not run this summer after NSW Health had a private firm interview 300 festival goers who apparently said fear campaigns did not work on them.

"The majority of interviewees indicated while they have heard messages around 'Don't Take Drugs' and 'Just Say No' for an extended period of time, neither resonated with them," a statement from the department said.

 

The NSW Health Music Festival Safety Campaign last year featured Westmead Hospital’s Dr Paul Smith talking about the dangers of a party pill overdose.
The NSW Health Music Festival Safety Campaign last year featured Westmead Hospital’s Dr Paul Smith talking about the dangers of a party pill overdose.

"Focus testing with a more hard hitting messaging did not effectively engage with patrons to modify their behaviour."

NSW Health claim the revellers interviewed were glowing about the new StayOK campaign.

"It's casual and not shaming drug users or trying to get them in trouble, just trying to help," one respondent apparently said.

Another said: "I like that stay OK gives a positive message rather than a negative and it relates to my friends when I look after them".

The more confronting TV ads were hurried to air last year amid a horrific summer in which five young people died at NSW festivals and featured Westmead Hospital's Dr Phil Smith explaining what happens to an overdose victim.

"You'll be paralysed, a tube will be placed down your throat and you'll be placed on life support," he said in the ad.

"If you go into cardiac arrest it can be very difficult to bring you back.

"Before you reach this point, think about it, is this how you want your night to end?".

This year NSW Health has opted for a 'Stay OK at Music Festivals' campaign.
This year NSW Health has opted for a 'Stay OK at Music Festivals' campaign.

In stark contrast, this year's StayOK campaign includes a "pre-festival checklist" and shows you how to put a friend in the recovery position if they've overdosed.

"Music festivals are the highlight of the calendar," the campaign website said.

"You're psyched to be seeing your favourite artists, hanging out with mates, meeting new people and having an awesome experience.

"Planning for what could happen in the event you or someone else needs help because of alcohol or drug use is just as key as your wardrobe, bum-bag game, road trip playlist, phone and other essentials."

 

Greta Bennett and Fergus Grady welcomed the new campaign saying it is “important people are educated in ways to minimise the risks if they’re going to take drugs”. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Greta Bennett and Fergus Grady welcomed the new campaign saying it is “important people are educated in ways to minimise the risks if they’re going to take drugs”. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Two students interviewed by The Ripple Effect said hard-hitting campaigns did make an impact.

"I think that in the past advertising material that aimed to scare people out of taking drugs at festivals has definitely worked," Fergus Grady, 20, said.

"But it's good to give people options, explore different ways to target different audiences.

"People need a realistic idea of what happens when you take drugs and they should be presented with the facts."

Greta Bennett, 18, said ads should to be fact based.

"The most important thing is that people are presented with both sides of the facts," she said.

"I do think though because something has worked in the past doesn't mean we should just stick to that tactic, it's important that people are educated in ways to minimise the risks if they're going to take drugs."

 

 

The campaign focuses on warning signs of an overdose and what to do.
The campaign focuses on warning signs of an overdose and what to do.