With cannabis legalization just around the corner in Canada, the government needs to get ready to educate the public about the risks, benefits and general effects of smoking marijuana. To avoid stumbling out of the gate, Canadian regulators should study the failures of past PSAs. Like these low-points from the NBC-backed campaign 'The More You Know.'
1. 'Drinking + Driving = Abstinence'
Some PSAs speak to the heart, others target the brain. But this spot featuring 'Baywatch Nights' star Angie Harmon went right for the groin by telling young men that drinking and driving is a ticket to celibacy. Speaking for all womankind, Harmon looked directly into the camera and told sexually frustrated guys everywhere, "There's only one way you're going to get anywhere with us - in or out of a car: drive sober."
Great, so now overprotective mothers are going to make their sons chug a beer before driving so they don't pick up an STI or an unplanned pregnancy on the way to school.
2. Lightning Hates Park Rangers
In this locally produced 'The More You Know' segment from Louisiana, a young girl informs us that lightning exists because nature hates us. Especially one unlucky civil servant.
"One park ranger in Virginia was struck by lightning seven times from 1942 to 1977," the girl told the camera. "He lost his hair, his eyebrows are burned off and his arms and legs were badly burned."
Normally that's where the spokesperson would give us a parting message. Like leave the pole inside if you plan to do some outdoor stripping during an electrical storm. But, no. The girl offers no tips to avoid lightning strikes or any explanation for that one guy's bad luck. So the moral is, don't become a park ranger unless you like getting tasered by a merciless god.
3. The More You Shill
The 'More You Know Campaign' may have been developed with good intentions, but it's come under fire in the past from groups like the Ad Council, who argued that using stars of network shows in the PSAs was basically a way for NBC to promote its shows under the guise of public service.
NBC responded by making it abundantly clear that those allegations were true. At least that's the gist of the segment where Anthony Edwards turned an acrostic poem for teachers into shameless plug for his hit series during a love letter to teachers.
"T is for the many things they teach us," Edwards said. "E is for all the extra care they show. They get A's for their ability to reach us. And C means they're committed that we grow. H is for the homework, keep it coming. And ER - Thursday night at 10, 9 Central Time. You put that all together and it spells teacher."
No, it spells "hack."
4. Show and Tell
Anthony Edwards' ode to teachers forgot one crucial letter that defines their profession. J for judgmental. That's how they came across in the segment hosted by Marla Gibbs of 'The Jeffersons.'
"It used to be, the questions asked in this room were about spelling and geography," Gibbs said while sitting in a classroom. "Today the questions are a lot tougher."
But she doesn't mean questions asked by students. She means burning questions on the minds of teachers. Like, "Johnny, are you high on something?" And "Mary, are you pregnant?" And if the answer to either question is "no," then students in Gibbs' class are going to leave with lessons in being profiled as a drug addict and body shamed for putting on a little weight at the beginning of puberty. And if the answer's "yes," then be prepared to play "show-and-tell" with your poor life choices for the teacher's amusement.
5. Trump's Anatomy
The key to a good PSA is delivering a clear, direct message through a spokesperson that can gain the viewer's confidence. And it's that last part where former Reality TV star Donald Trump failed while trying to warn kids about the dangers of smoking.
"Smoking sucks [awkward pause] the air right outta your lungs, and you're gonna need those for the rest of your life," said Trump, who sounded like he just found out that those internal airbags actually do something other than help his mouth-snake turn his breath into ear-pictures.
The only takeaway from this one is that Trump probably doesn't understand basic anatomy, and NBC should be more discriminating when picking 'The More You Know' spokespeople.