Public Education Campaigns on the Prevention of Underage Drinking

This project works with SAMHSA’s Office of Communications (OC) to develop a series of public education campaigns specifically focused on diverse communities.


Purpose: To develop public education campaigns for American Indian/Alaska Natives, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian/Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders that focus on the prevention of underage drinking.

Population Addressed: Parents, families and key caregivers of 9-15 year olds in diverse communities.

Rationale and Relevance: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) ad campaigns tend to reach a broad mainstream audience, but appear to have less penetration into diverse communities.  The Office of Communications, with the NNED, is interested in developing messages that are culturally informed, meaningful, appealing and acceptable, and utilize means of messaging that have the greatest potential to penetrate and connect with culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse communities.

History: SAMHSA works with the Ad Council to develop public education and awareness campaigns through various forms of media—TV, radio, and print—in an effort to increase understanding about mental health and substance use/abuse issues.  These campaigns are multi-prong:

  • Creative: Development of public service announcement
  • Fulfillment: Audience linkage with a SAMHSA-produced resource

SAMHSA’s recent campaign focused on the theme of “Start Talking Before They Start Drinking,” in an effort to combat underage drinking and to educate parents, youth, and caregivers on the issue of alcohol use.  The campaign draws attention to the topic, and provides a phone number to call to get resources developed specifically to accompany the ad.  This may be a website, print materials, posters, booklets, etc.


The media campaigns for each ethnic group will include some of the following*:

  • TV production
  • Radio production
  • Print production
  • Web banner production
  • Measures of campaign effectiveness (including process, output, and outcome evaluation)

*The media mix will vary among ethnic groups.


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