Last summer the Brandpower Team travelled to Nepal to meet with Tom Lioncraut, an American hippie and travel guru who, a few years ago, had to flee the States to evade trial for heroin trafficking. Tom, who still swears his innocence, settled down in a colonial house near the Pokhara Lake; the place is surrounded by a bamboo porch, gently perched at the foothills of snow-capped mountains. On his property Tom grows what conoisseurs reckon as the best grass in the Himalayas. But we didn’t go to the other side of the world just to smoke his pot. Our trip was for a good cause: Tom, in fact, decided to run a worldwide campaign against drugs and he called us to get some help. After a brief conversation on monsoons, tigers and women’s rights in Nepal, we asked him which drug he wanted to fight, in particular. Tom looked puzzled by the question, then candidly replied: “any drug!”
FBI, by all means, considers Tom Lioncraut a criminal. On the other hand, he’s also a drug authority who – in the past – helped several governments in their attempt to curb the drug cartel. Nobody, infact, knows drugs, from production to smuggling, better than him. He’s also familiar with drug addicts’ mentality, their psychology, rituals, fears and weaknesses.
Tom laid down the problem of drug-fighting starting from advertising. He said that tv commercials against drugs always got it wrong. “They fucked it all up for at least two reasons: drug addicts are just focussed on one thing: drugs. They don’t even have time for sex, so why should they waste time watching tv? Actually, a person who’s high on LSD or peyote can watch tv for hours, seeing the craziest cartoons without even switching the bloody thing on!” He paused for a second to light a spliff. “The other reason is that advertising against drugs actually drives many people to try it because ad-people make everything look so damn’ cool. It’s immoral.”
We couldn’t agree more with Tom, especially after trying his grass which had put all of us in a super mellow mood. We worked and smoked for a couple of days and, at the end of a quite enjoyable brainstorming, we came up with a revolutionary insight: if addicts think only about drugs, why not using drugs as the media?
“Bingo!” Tom thought the idea of placing anti-drug ads on pills and LSD blotters was a strike of genius. He said: “that’s the fucking thing I was looking for!”. We proposed Tom to use also objects and tools linked to the ritual of drug’s preparation as a media; syringes and spoons for heroin, credit cards and make-up mirrors for cocaine, for instance. We even thought of placing a warning sign against glue sniffing on glue tins. The list of crazy media kept running for hours. We are featuring here only a part of the items that went into production. Our main goal was to get in touch with people who have the attention span of a squirrel, and deliver them a message that sounded like a last call from hell. We went for harsh, punch-in-the-stomach short lines. “No need for literature!” Tom said. ” Also because drug addicts have very few neurons left, and their thinking is fucking slow. So, if we have to insult the buggers to get a reaction, let’s do that!”
Above: the question is printed in a blood-red type which screams for attention. Below: spoon and lighter are daily, familiar tools to heroin addicts. The best way to rehab these people is not asking them to give up the most powerful thing on Earth. It’s telling them to try another drug, for free. Methadone, as a matter of fact, is a good substitute to heroin, and the first step to get them out of this shit.
We didn’t limit our creative effort to a few slogans. The items have been actually produced by Mediadope, a joint venture (pun not intended) between Tom Lioncraut and Brandpwoder. We are now licensing these products to business firms and institutions who want to join the project.
Above: the Mediadope logo and its catching payoff.
Above: The glue tin, for the moment, is only a mock up; we are contacting industries to receive extra support. Glue sniffers are among the poorest and least informed drug addicts in the world; the brain damage coming from this stuff is something you don’t want to know.
The production and distribution’s cost of all these items is negligible but the positive impact of Mediadope can be enormous. We hope this brilliant, young project will help Tom to rebuild his reputation and, hopefully, get a suspension of indictment from FBI. The people who should be jailed for drug crimes, meanwhile, are still free. According to Tom, some of them still work in advertising.
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The Brandpowder Team.