Videos of "Stoner Sloth," a cute but pathetic character who can't handle life because of marijuana, are bringing in more laughs than self-reflection by cannabis advocates.
Stoner Sloth is portrayed as both male and female in the ads, which were produced by the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet. In a series of six videos, which can be found on YouTube and on a website created for the campaign, the furry creature is seen struggling with basic tasks, able only to grunt in frustration.
In one video, for example, "Delilah" is called upon by her teacher to turn in a test. With sad guitar music in the background, Delilah Sloth bends her head in shame as the teacher sees that none of the answers on the essay-style test has been filled in. A fellow student makes the snide remark, "Stoner Sloth." The campaign's slogan then pops up: "You're worse on weed." Another video has a male sloth trying — and failing — to engage in witty repertoire with friends at a party.
Internet users, including actual stoners, find the series hilarious. A compilation of the videos on YouTube (see below) has more 2 two million views.
Here's a sampling of Facebook comments on Stoner Sloth's Facebook site:
"I'm gonna blaze forever just like you, Stoner Sloth."
"Stoner [sloth] is incredibly cool. This makes me want to start smoking weed. Thank you stoner sloth!"
"I actually can't stop laughing. And I'm not even stoned."
"Thanks for the laugh. There are bad things that can result from use of marijuana but no matter how stoned you are, you still know what the salt looks like and are capable of passing it on."
"How high were you [Australian] guys when you decided this was a brilliant ad campaign?"
But some folks perceive the campaign as offensive, or a waste of money:
An Austraiian wrote, "Our Government did this, how embarrassing. Miss-information overload. Using propaganda in a desperate attempt to discredit cannabis."
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"Yes, let's make it perfectly fine for teachers to pick on students in front of an entire class. Well done."
"The 'Stoner Sloth' public awareness 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," a representative of the New South Wales government told AdWeek on Sunday. "The campaign is designed to appeal to, and be 'shareable' among, teenagers, who are some of the most vulnerable to cannabis use. We know that younger audiences respond more to campaigns highlighting the short-term consequences of their actions."
The campaign is so bizarre, and reaction to it so cynical, that Australia's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre issued a statement last week to make sure people realized the Centre had nothing to do with it: "While we wish the NSW government luck in future cannabis campaigns, the current stoner sloth campaign doesn’t reflect NCPIC views on how cannabis harms campaigns should be approached, as was implied by the media.”