Talk to Frank resources-for-family

What Is Talk To Frank?

The longest running anti-drug campaign in the UK is Talk to Frank. Has it managed to get people to quit substance abuse?

A police Swat team in the UK burst into a kitchen of a quiet suburban home, and the results were a complete turnaround of the way drug education was done for good. People were seriously warned to stay away from the drug peddlers around sports arenas and that they could be destroyed by drugs. A lighter, more humorous approach was used instead.


The first advert featured a boy calling the police snatch squad on his mother because she wanted to discuss drugs with him. But the new information being passed is "Drugs are illegal. Talking about them isn't. So, Talk to Frank."


Frank A Pleasant Private Drug Counsel

Frank, the new identity for the National Drugs Helpline, was coined by the advertising agency Mother. It was supposed to be the symbol of a reliable older brother that younger individuals can go to for guidance regarding illegal substances. In the bid to make the Frank label a very popular one among the young people in the country, programs like the tour round a brain house, and Pablo the canine drugs mule were all incorporated.


According to the creative director, Justin Tindall, of the advertising agency, Leo Burnett, it was important that Frank was at no time seen in the flesh so that he could never be the victim of ridicule for wearing the incorrect shoes or attempting to be "down with the kids". Even the sham Frank videos on YouTube are moderately deferential. One more thing that distinguishes Frank from other government-funded campaigns is that nothing links the ad to the government in anyway whatsoever.

Substance education has developed a lot since Nancy Reagan, and in the United Kingdom, Grange Hill cast encouraged teens to simply "Say No" to drugs, a campaign which several professionals now think had the opposite of the desire effect.


Majority of the ads in Europe now follow the footsteps of Frank in trying to be sincere and allowing the teenagers the right to choose. You still see pictures of prison bars and upset parents, though, in countries where dealing drugs will get you in serious trouble with the law. A recent campaign launched in Singapore informed young people who visit clubs, "You play, you pay".

In the United States of America, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on a long-running campaign, Above the Influence, that sells positive possibilities to using substances by making use of a combination of funny and cautionary stories. In the ad, teenagers are communicated to in a manner they are familiar with, like some "stoners" being marooned on a couch. Though, an unexpected number of anti-drug campaigns all over the globe still resort back to strategies intended to arouse fear or alarm, specifically the substance-fuelled plunge to hell. A good example is a Canadian commercial that appeared recently and formed part of the DrugsNot4Me series in which a beautiful, self-assured young woman changes into a trembling, hollow-eyed skeleton because of "drugs".

Research that was done on a UK anti-drug campaign between 1999 and 2004 shows that describing the negative effects of abuse will often actually encourage young people "on the margins of society" to use drugs.


The opposition Conservative politicians were initially against Frank, simply because it pointed out the ups and downs of drug use, but it made giant strides.


"Cocaine makes you feel on top of the world" was used in one of the early internet ad campaigns.

Hitting the middle road with an ad to give the right message always proved to be a challenge. According to the then creative director of digital agency Profero, Matt Powell, who designed the ad, he was wrong in believing that a normal web user has an adequate attention span. Some might not have adhered around to the finish of the liveliness to get some answers concerning the negative impacts. However, the goal of the ad was to be upfront with young people about the effects of drugs so that Frank could establish some accountability.

According to the Home Office, 67% of younger people in a survey stated that they would ask Frank if they required advice on drugs. The Frank helpline received 225,892 calls and the website received 3,341,777 visits between 2011 and 2012. The argument is that this is proof that the approach is working.

However, just like every other anti-drugs campaign in the world , there's no evidence that Frank has actually stopped people from taking drugs.

In the years since the campaign started, drug use in the UK is down by 9%; however, experts say this might be because marijuana use has declined, most like due to changing attitudes toward smoking tobacco.


What Is Frank?

FRANK is a nationwide drug education programme designed and run by the British government's Department of Health in collaboration with the Home Office in 2003. FRANK's vision is to equip the youth with the bold facts and knowledge about the legal and illegal use of narcotics to reduce the drug use. It has had several media campaigns on the Internet and the radio.


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Services

FRANK provides the following services for people who seek information and/or advice about drugs

  • A website
  • 24/7 anonymous telephone number
  • Email
  • A classified live chat facility, accessible from 2pm-6pm everyday
  • A service to find treatment and counselling