On October 17, 2015, Australia announced that it would legalize marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. In response, the New South Wales Government launched an anti-marijuana campaign on November 24 that is very hard to take seriously, known as #StonerSloth.
Stoner Sloth is a Chewbacca-like creature that moves sluggishly, groaning and wailing in response when spoken to instead of replying with words like a normal human being does. Stoner Sloth is portrayed as a teenager who is stoned out of his/or her mind and struggling through life because of it.
And the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW) is supporting the campaign. The NSW recently paid an external advertising company an undisclosed amount of money to make the video go viral. The cabinet says, “The campaign is designed to appeal to, and be ‘shareable’ among, teenagers, who are some of the most vulnerable to cannabis use. We know that younger audiences respond more to campaigns highlighting the short-term consequences of their actions.” It says the aim is to “encourage positive behaviours before bad habits start, and motivate discontinued use before teenagers become highly dependent.”
In the campaign video, Stoner Sloth is seen struggling through the hardships of life — all because he/she smoked marijuana. Each video segment ends with the campaigns mantra: “YOU’RE WORSE ON WEED #StonerSloth.” The Campaign then tags the videos: #Embarrassed, #YourWorseOnWeed, #Stoned and #StonerSloth.
In the videos, Stoner Sloth is seen at school, cheating on an exam and struggling to come up with answers of her own. In the next segment, Stoner Sloth is at the dinner table with family and is asked a simple question, “can you pass the salt,” but because stoner sloth is… well stoned out of his mind… he passes a bowl of salad instead.
The video that really gets me is when Stoner Sloth is at a party with a friend. Everyone around Stoner Sloth is underage drinking… except for Stoner Sloth. The campaign labels stoner sloth as “that guy” and a random group of people take a picture with the ‘stoned out’ stoner sloth because they find his actions humorous.
The cabinet said they used research conducted by the National Cannabis Prevention Centre (NCPIC) to create the campaign. After a quick search of the NCPIC, I found that the organization’s knowledge of cannabis is a little outdated, and informative information is hard to come by on its website.
Luckily, it seems viewers are taking the campaign with a grain of salt and enjoying it for its comedic value. It is hard to imagine that the Australian government had a hand in something so silly. Imagine sitting at a government meeting and concluding that Stoner Sloth is a good idea and will be an effective campaign… I wonder what they’re smoking.
[Images via http://www.stonersloth.com.au/]
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