Ad company defends $500,000 “Stoner Sloth” campaign

You’ve probably seen the Australian “Stoner Sloth” anti-marijuana ads by now, as they’ve generated a tremendous amount of conversation both positive and negative  for a variety of reasons. The ad was applauded by those it was meant to be targeted against. Instead of deterring kids from marijuana, it was just a funny commercial which seemed like it was made by stoners.

The agency who created the spots, Saatchi and Saatchi, say they’re still behind the spots despite the middling results.

“The videos have truly gone viral,” a Saatchi rep tells the Sydney Morning Herald, adding: “The unexpected global media attention is now providing a platform for parents and teenagers all over the world to have ‘the conversation’ about cannabis in an engaging way.”

The reps say the video were designed not to target long-term stoners, or adults but teenagers who could be on the fence to prevent them from smoking marijuana.

“The videos we created were designed as part of a preventative campaign specifically for teens; the audience is not for adults or long-term cannabis users,” the rep says. “Two different creative approaches were pre-tested by independent researchers among the teenage target audience, which verified the potential efficacy for this campaign.”

The ad according to those who made it and followed its metrics has posted “posted strong viewership and engagement,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been effective. Views are great, but if people are watching just to laugh along it’s hard to call it successful. The ads costs a staggering $500,000 to make, money Saatchi says has generated a “significant return on investment and involvement” for the New South Wales government.

Fairfax Media asked a neutral expert in the advertising industry what they thought of the ads, and said the problem was obvious.

“The problem is that whenever a campaign is sent up and greeted with howls of derisive laughter, you’ve got a major problem,” said award-winning advertising writer Jane Caro, who added the target audience would be “completely aware” that the sloth concept had been rubbished.

It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, as the ads aren’t effective and are understandably mocked by those the ad is intending to have an effect on. That’s just bad advertising. It’s funny, but that’s not what it’s necessarily going for.


Liam McGuire

About Liam McGuire

Staff writer for Comeback Sports. I also write for Awful Announcing and Vice Sports. I previously worked for TSN Radio 1050 and TSN Analytics. Proudly born in Nova Scotia, Canada.