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Australian Anti-Weed PSA Backfires, Creating a Counterculture Hero

He’s reached cult status online.

Australia’s New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet has a message for the children out there: “You’re Worse on Weed.” The frontman for the public awareness campaign is Stoner Sloth, a person in a big, furry sloth outfit who is so chemically inconvenienced by reefer that he (sometimes she) is unable to perform in any social setting. Stoner Sloth’s apathetic approach to life in general makes him off-putting to the people he encounters in various PSA videos. The problem is that Stoner Sloth has been embraced by the pro-pot community. According to Adweek, “The cartoonish scare tactics are so over-the-top that not only are they ineffective, they may even encourage teens to spark up.”


A spokesperson for NSW’s Department of Premier and Cabinet said in a statement that the “campaign has been designed to encourage positive behaviors in young people before bad habits start, and motivate discontinued use of cannabis before they become dependent.” It was also designed “to appeal to, and be ‘shareable’ among, teenagers.” The problem is that the cute sloth is as shareable as the recreational drug the PSA is attempting to demonize.

In one PSA, “Delilah,” a very stoney sloth, is unable to put pen to paper on a school exam. In another, “Jason” has smoked so much ganja that he’s unable to pass the salt to his family at dinner. The final PSA features “Dave,” who’s been so heavily impacted by da kine crippler that he cannot hang at a high school party—where kids are holding red cups, presumably filled with booze. It’s doubtful that the Department of Premier and Cabinet intended to show booze in a good light, but the PSA infers that it’s a positive alternative to cannabis.

According to Adweek, “The colossal failure of the campaign can be seen in reactions online, where it has earned a cult following, seemingly amongst stoners. There are parody videos, a seemingly endless barrage of jokes on social media and even a ‘Pass the Salt’ Stoner Sloth t-shirt.”

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(H/T Adweek)

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