When New York city introduced a new gimmick in 1998 to dissuade kids from narcotics they decided on a too cool to do drugs pencil. The city distributed a pencil with the words “too cool to do drugs” written along its length. Surely it couldn’t do any harm, and it presented a strong message on an item that nearly all children use. But the designers of the campaign didn’t count on one thing, and they really should have. The problem with pencils is that they require sharpening, which as we all know results in an ever shortening pencil.
What was wrong with the too cool to do drugs pencil?
Now take a mental picture of the too cool to do drugs pencil. At the sharp end was written too, while at the eraser end was drugs. Now as we said, the message initially is a good one, but it doesn’t stay that way, and even turns into an extremely negative one.
We now have a full and new pencil. Use it a while and sharpen it. Now you are left with the completely opposite of a good message. That’s right, it now says “cool to do drugs.” Sharpen some more and it becomes “do drugs,” and then “drugs.”
Now one would think that an academic would have picked up on a huge mistake like this way before they went into production. But it was not the case. It took Kodi Mosier, a 10 year old student from Ticonderoga Elementary School madke the alarming discovery.
A company called Bureau for At-Risk Youth withdrew the too cool to do drugs pencil when they became aware of the mistake. They re-released the pencils with the words written in the opposite direction, so when they sharpened the message would eventually read “too cool.”
We’re actually a little embarrassed that we didn’t notice that sooner,
Darlene Clair, a spokeswoman for Bureau for At-Risk Youth