The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Ad Council announced today the launch of a multi-year public awareness campaign focused on teen steroid use. The campaign is being funded by U.S. Olympic Team sponsor Johnson & Johnson, and it marks the first time the USOC and the Ad Council have joined forces to raise awareness about the national issue of illegal performance-enhancing drugs both within and outside of sport.
"We know athletes and individuals who choose to engage in the destructive behavior of illegal steroid use live in fear of being found out," said USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr. "This initiative is geared to show teens and other age groups that illegal steroid use can only lead to a harmful and embarrassing end. Additionally, teens need to fully understand the dangerous health risks associated with steroids and other performance-enhancing substances."
Components of the campaign will be launched during the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games and include TV, radio, print and Internet PSAs which convey the urgency of this critical issue in an effort to shift teens' perception and image around steroid use. All of the PSAs direct the audience to visit www.DontBeAnAsterisk.com to learn more about steroids, hear from professional athletes and find healthy alternatives to excel in athletics.
"We are proud to partner with the United States Olympic Committee, Johnson & Johnson and creative agency TBWA on this critical issue to help teenagers realize that steroids are socially unacceptable," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO, the Ad Council. "The ads are engaging and memorable, while motivating, and I believe they will have a great impact on teens and parents in our country."
The campaign will be funded for at least three years through the support of Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson has long been engaged in health awareness and education initiatives worldwide, and its support of the USOC and Ad Council's anti-steroid message is a critical piece in the campaign's ultimate success.
"Johnson & Johnson recognizes how important it is to educate teens about the appropriate use of all medications and the dangers associated with their misuse," said Brian Perkins, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Affairs. "The elements of this campaign should resonate as authentic with teens, and they are consistent with our philosophy of caring about people's health and well-being in ways that are meaningful and impactful."
The campaign was created pro bono under the direction of TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, a leading global advertising agency. Research conducted to help inform the campaign led TBWA\Chiat\Day to focus on the word and symbol of the "Asterisk - *" as the foundation for the campaign.
"Being caught with steroids comes with absolute penalties. You're off the team. Your scholarship is gone. Your hopes of going pro are possibly out the window," Gary Scheiner, Executive Creative Director, TBWA\Chiat\Day. "Our creative solution was to make teens understand that of all the outcomes of steroid use, fakeness is also considerably damaging. To illustrate this, we took a well-known icon already used in the world of sport, and turned it into our scarlet letter. The Asterisk."
A link to the official Web site for the campaign - www.DontBeAnAsterisk.com - can be found on both the USOC and Ad Council Web sites - http://www.teamusa.org/ and www.adcouncil.org.