High Campaign: Hell Disguised as Heaven
Remember how anti-drug campaigns were conducted in school? After a sharing session during assembly, you would receive a stationery set branded with slogans such as “Drugs Destroy, Destroy Drugs”. For better or worse, those days are over. Do not expect students to be impressed by a blue ribbon badge and catchphrases in edgy graffiti font.
This year, the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) tapped on famed local director Royston Tan to create an interactive short film about drug use. In the film, viewers would make pivotal choices determining the protagonist’s fate. The campaign was done by Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore.
While the film is undoubtedly the star of the show, its website is full of clever design choices which complement the film effectively.
The testimonial section, best viewed on mobile, asks users to swipe left or right on the cards to explore the highs and lows of consuming drugs.
Overlaying the layers is an artful way of displaying the struggle of drug use. It is messy and confusing, much like how drug abusers feel.
Ants On Your Face
To promote the interactive film, the campaign released Instagram filters which would fit right in with other creepy filters on the explore tab. Based on the testimonies of drug abusers, ants could come out of your face in hallucinations.
Out-of-home posters on digital billboards could also be scanned to ‘reveal the 2 sides of drugs’ - the same pictures of the film’s characters as seen on the website’s testimonial page. Unfortunately, the coronavirus might have drastically reduced the number of interactions due to the circuit breaker lockdown measures.
The film (spoiler alert) did not focus on the hallucinations as much as they should have given that the entire marketing was based on that idea, but the marketing was still an eye-catching success nonetheless.
A New Era of Government Campaigns?
It is okay to feel cynical about annual campaigns, especially if they follow a cookie-cutter formula. After all, most of us know these messages by heart from years of campaigning: remove stagnant water to prevent mosquito breeding, gamble responsibly and do not do drugs. Thus, we may unknowingly tune out due to boredom.
High is proof that creativity and unconventionalism can breathe new life into a stale (but no less important) message. Considering that this is Singapore’s first ever interactive film, it could be a sign that the government is more willing to take creative risks.