Public Service Announcement Featured in Times Square

Approximately 1.5 million people pass through New York City’s Times Square daily. This number increases exponentially during the holiday season when festivities are in full swing, which is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) jumped at the opportunity to run a 15-second public service announcement (PSA) on the CBS Super Screen in the heart of this iconic world landmark from April through December 2011.

SAMHSA enlisted the help of URC’s Underage Drinking Prevention and Education Initiatives (UADPEI) project to design the PSA.  UADPEI, which is funded by SAMHSA, supports national efforts to prevent underage alcohol use by enhancing public awareness of underage drinking and its consequences and by providing resources to foster community-based prevention.

Times Square PSA Kids are curious about alcohol. By the time they reach 8th grade, 40 percent of children will have tried alcohol. By the time they graduate from high school, 75 percent will have had their first drink.  Talking with children early and often about why they should not drink before age 21 can make a difference—to their health, their education, and their future. 

For this reason, the PSA encourages parents to “Talk EARLY, Talk OFTEN, Get Others INVOLVED” in order to prevent underage drinking.  It also directs viewers to the Stop Alcohol Abuse.gov web portal, which SAMHSA manages on behalf of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD).  The site’s homepage directs visitors to a PSA landing page where they can find links to related resources.  The landing page has mechanisms for tracking viewer responses and measuring the PSA’s effectiveness in prompting additional interest in underage drinking and its prevention.

Since its debut on April 9, 2011, the Times Square PSA has run once every hour for 18 hours a day and has generated over 17 million estimated impressions, or views, giving unprecedented exposure to the message of underage drinking prevention.

Date 
December 27, 2011
Authors 
Matthew Walker, DrPH and Niambi Wilder, Communications Specialist
Regions/ Countries