This Is Your Brain on Drugs

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This article is about the campaign. For the episode of The Riches, see This Is Your Brain On Drugs (The Riches).
The Partnership used a simple advertisement showing an egg in a frying pan, similar to this photo, suggesting that the effect of drugs on a brain was like a hot pan on an egg.

This Is Your Brain on Drugs was a large-scale US anti-narcotics campaign by Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched in 1987, that used two televised public service announcements (PSAs) and a related poster campaign.

1987 version[edit]

The 30″ version of the first PSA, from 1987, shows a man (played by John Roselius) in a starkly furnished apartment who asks if there is anyone out there who still doesn't understand the dangers of drug abuse. He holds up an egg and says, "This is your brain," before motioning to a frying pan and adding, "This is drugs." He then cracks open the egg, fries the contents, and says, "This is your brain on drugs." Finally he looks up at the camera and asks, "Any questions?"

In contrast, the 10″ and 15″ versions simply show a close-up of an egg dropping into a frying pan. This is accompanied by a voice-over saying in the 15″ version: "Okay, last time. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" The 10″ version omits the first sentence.

The PSA, titled "Frying Pan" (a.k.a. "Fried Egg" and "Any Questions?"), was conceived by art directors Scot Fletcher and Rick Bell, copywriter Larre Johnson and creative director Paul Keye at Los Angeles-based agency Keye/Donna/Pearlstein. It was directed by Joe Pytka through his own Venice-based production company Pytka Productions and produced by agency producer Harvey Greenberg, Pytka executive producer Jane McCann and Pytka producer John Turney. Anthony Marinelli scored the shorter versions.[1][2]

1997 version[edit]

The second PSA, from 1997,[3] featured 18-year-old actress Rachael Leigh Cook, who, as before, holds up an egg and says, "this is your brain," before lifting up a frying pan with the words, "this is heroin," after which she places the egg on a kitchen counter — "this is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin" — and slams the pan down on it. She lifts the pan back up, saying, "and this is what your body goes through," in reference to the remnants of the smashed egg now dripping from the bottom of the pan and down her arm. Rachael then says, "It's not over yet," and proceeds to smash everything in the kitchen with the frying pan, saying, "And this is what your family goes through! And your friends! And your money! And your job! And your self-respect! And your future!" She ends with "And your life." Cook finally drops the pan on the counter of the now-wrecked kitchen, and says, "Any questions?"

This PSA, likewise titled "Frying Pan," was conceived by art director Doug Hill, copywriter Ken Cills and creative director Graham Turner at New York-based agency Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners. It was directed by Eden Tyler through New York-based production company Zooma Zooma, produced by agency producer Ed Kleban and Zooma Zooma producer Joseph Mantegna and edited by Jay Nelson at Santa Monica-based Avenue Edit.[4][5]

Impact[edit]

TV Guide named the commercial one of the top one hundred television advertisements of all time[6] and Entertainment Weekly named of the 8th best commercial of all time.[7]

The American Egg Board had an issue with the PSA because they didn't want their product associated with the unhealthiness of drug use. They worried that young children might misinterpret the TV message and think that eggs were harmful.[8]

A poster produced in the early 1990s called "Famous Brains on Drugs" parodied the concept by having eggs appear in the frying pan in forms intended to remind the viewer of certain people. For instance, a pan labeled "Saddam Hussein" had an egg with a crosshair over it, and a pan labeled "Milli Vanilli" contained a box of imitation eggs. There have also been in form of T-shirts, such as versions based on The Simpsons ("This is your brain on donuts, showing a X-ray of Homer Simpson's head) and the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry (shirts targeted to both alliegiances of the famed rivalry), among others.

Saturday Night Live parodied the PSA in its "This is your brain on drugs, with a side of bacon" skit.[7]

In an episode of the sitcom Roseanne, the character Roseanne Conner reenacts the PSA while having a conversation with one of her children about drugs.[8]

An episode of the teen series Beverly Hills, 90210 ends with the characters Brandon and Brenda Walsh acting out the PSA with their friends in their favorite diner. After the show, the actual 30-second commercial aired and Jason Priestley delivered his own anti-drug message on air.[8]

In the eighteenth episode of the second season of the sitcom Married With Children, "What Goes Around Comes Around" (1990), the character Al Bundy takes an egg, says "This is your brain," then says "This is your brain on marriage," drops it on the ground, and asks, "Any questions?"[9]

The "brain on drugs" line was sampled in Boogie Down Productions' 1990 political hip hop song "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)" and "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1992 parody song "I Can't Watch This."[10]

The 1991 film sequel Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare spoofed the PSA by having Johnny Depp (whose acting career began with the original A Nightmare on Elm Street movie) perform the skit. The PSA goes on as normal until Robert Englund (who plays Freddy Krueger) hits Depp with the frying pan and says, "Yeah! What are you on? Looks like a frying pan and some eggs to me."[11]

Bill Hicks spoke negatively about the commercial frequently during his stand-up routine, claiming "I've seen a lot of weird shit on drugs, I've never ever ever ever ever looked at an egg and thought it was a fucking brain."[12]

In the film Batman Forever (1995), the character the Riddler parodies the commercial. It is also spoofed in Scary Movie 2 (2001).

In the second version was satirized in the second episode of the animated television show Robot Chicken, "Junk in the Trunk" (2005), Rachael Leigh Cook (who provided the voice acting) goes on a psychopathic rampage, destroying everything she encounters, ending eventually with her smashing herself in the head and falling down a building.[13]

The title of the popular science book This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (2006) by Daniel Levitin is a nod to the PSA.

In the tenth episode of the second season of the TV series Breaking Bad, "Over" (2009), the character Jesse Pinkman, references the commercial except he fries one egg and says, "this is your brain" then adds another egg and says "this is your brain on drugs."[14]

In 2012, two PSAs based on the PDFA campaign were released by Tea Party activist Herman Cain. The violent death of a goldfish and a rabbit is supposed to represent what President Obama's stimulus plan does to the American economy.[15]

Rob DenBlyker, one of the creators of the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, parodied the commercial in a 2013 installment where a father, after re-enacting the commercial, admits to his son that he himself is on drugs. "But I don't see how that's relevant," he adds.[16]

A recent CBS Cares PSA parodied this that talked about sunburn, which showed raw bacon that accompanied a voice saying "This is your skin", and a slice of it was then placed in a frying pan, cooking it, stating "This is your skin in the sun", and then follows it by a shot of a sun in which the voice says "Any questions?", accompanied by the phrase "Save your bacon. Use sunscreen." superimposed over the sun.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Partnership for a Drug-Free America: Any Questions? {Advertising Council Exhibition: Anti-Drug}". Paley Center for Media. 
  2. ^ Robert Goldrich (June 24, 1988). "Scot Fletcher, Art Director: Rubin Postaer & Associates, Los Angeles". Back Stage 29 (26). 
  3. ^ Mercedes M. Cardona (November 3, 1997). "Drug Partnership Ads Tackle Heroin Use by Youth: 'Frying Pan' Reinterpreted by Margeotes in Updated Spot". Advertising Age 68 (44). 
  4. ^ "Partnership Against Drugs Association Drug Awareness: Frying Pan". Adeevee. 
  5. ^ "The Partnership's Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Creation of Campaign Advertisements" (press release). National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Spring 1998. Archived from the original on May 11, 2000. 
  6. ^ Erika Alexander (December 6, 2000). "Famous fried eggs: Students debate effectiveness, accuracy of well-known anti-drug commercial". CNN. 
  7. ^ a b "The 50 Best Commercials of All Time". Entertainment Weekly (372). March 28, 1997. 
  8. ^ a b c "The Partnerships "Fried Egg" TV Message" (press release). The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. August 16, 2006. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. 
  9. ^ "What Goes Around Comes Around". TV.com. 
  10. ^ "This Is Your Brain on Drugs". WhoSampled. 
  11. ^ Michael Ferguson (2005). Idol Worship: A Shameless Celebration of Male Beauty in the Movies (2nd ed.). Sarasota, Florida: STARbooks Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-891855-48-1. 
  12. ^ Bill Hicks (1992). "Drugs Have Done Good Things" on Relentless (live album). Rykodisc. Event occurs at 3:22–3:29. 
  13. ^ "Robot Chicken: Junk in the Trunk Episode Trivia". TV.com. 
  14. ^ "Breaking Bad > Season 2 > Episode 10". TV.com. 
  15. ^ Ben Johnson; Slate V Staff (March 26, 2012). "New Herman Cain Ad Uses Monty Python Levels of Violence, Rabbits". Slate. 
  16. ^ Rob DenBlyker (October 8, 2013). "Cyanide and Happiness #3327". explosm.net.