Pop-Culture Persona Used for Anti-Drug Ads

Cambodian pop singer and actress Thet Rotha Yuok became the face of a new anti-drug advertising campaign launched last week on the first day of the Water Fest­­ival, a UN official said on Thurs­­day.

Tith Sovann, the project’s officer at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said this marked the first time a Cambodian pop culture figure had been used to promote social welfare.

A 64-square-meter billboard featuring the entertainer will be up for a month next to Hun Sen Park, a UNODC state­ment said. Another billboard is up near the Old Stadium. These will be ac­com­panied by 500,000 leaflets, 200,000 of which were distributed dur­ing the Water Festival.

“We did advertisements at two past Water Festivals using pictures of drugs, but we thought we would be more creative this time,” he said, adding that they were now following the techniques of raising social awareness used in other countries.

The ads, which are sponsored by the UNODC and the National Authority for Combating Drugs, should interest young Cambo­di­ans, who increasingly use illicit drugs, especially methamphetamines, Tith Sovann said.

“If it is a person they like, they may be more receptive to the mes­sage she is promoting,” he said.

To make sure Thet Rotha Yuok was a recognizable figure, the UNODC showed Thet Rotha Yuok’s picture to groups of young people before printing the ads.

Tith Sovann said last week that of­ficials hoped the advertising cam­paign would reach more people in a more cost-effective manner in Phnom Penh during the Water Festival—more than 1 mil­lion people were expected to visit from the provinces—than distributing leaflets in the pro­vinces. The advertisement’s de­sign­ers are planning questionnaires and focus groups to test the effectiveness of the campaign.

If the ads are judged a success, Tith Sovann said a second phase of the anti-drug campaign will include a song and music video featuring Thet Rotha Yuok, as well as more social welfare marketing of entertainers. actors, singers, and possibly sports stars.

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