Many marketing analysts will argue that the famous Pepsi challenge advertisements helped Coke as much as Pepsi, by defining it in consumers minds as the standard to which other beverages should be compared, and by giving it nearly as many mentions to support name recognition as Pepsi gave itself. The GAO reports that anti-drug advertising may be encountering the same type failure:
A Government Accountability Office report on research tracking the
impact of the federal government's $1.2 billion anti-drug ad campaign concludes
that "the evaluation provides credible evidence that the campaign was
not effective in reducing youth drug use, either during the entire
period of the campaign [1998 to 2004] or during the period from 2002 to
2004 when the campaign was redirected and focused on marijuana use."
The GAO adds that "exposure to the advertisements generally did not
lead youth to disapprove of using drugs and may have promoted
perceptions among exposed youth that others' drug use was
normal....Westat's evaluation indicates that exposure to the campaign
did not prevent initiation of marijuana use and had no effect on
curtailing current users' marijuana use, despite youth recall of and
favorable assessments of advertisements." In fact, during some periods
and for some subgroups, exposure to the ads was significantly
associated with an increased tendency to smoke pot.