The ad shows a man next to a pandoro, an Italian Christmas cake, licking white dust from his finger. The caption reads “Cocaina? Ma de che! #Moltomeglio lo zucchero a velo” (Cocaine? What do you mean? Icing sugar is #muchbetter)
The Agenzia Capitolina sulle Tossicodipendenze (ACT), which is under threat of closure, was aiming to highlight the many alternatives to drugs in its supposedly light-hearted awareness campaign.
The use of hashtagging was intended to engage young Italians in a discussion about drug use over Twitter, but the campaign so far has been something of a flop.
Although a few Twitter users have responded positively to the campaign and offered their own take on what is 'much better' than taking drugs, many more replies have mocked the publicity campaign with comments such as “#muchbetter to avoid embarrassing publicity campaigns", while others pointed out the image could be misunderstood by children: “It's #muchbetter not to inhale icing sugar…”
One user went further, replying "Heroin is #much better. Ecstasy is #muchbetter."
Rome's mayor, Ignazio Marino, announced his intention to close ACT as part of the spending review, and the campaign may not have helped the organization. Marino tweeted: "I don't like the campaigm, which ACT Roma created independently, and the agency is one of several to be closed."
A 22-year-old woman was arrested in Macerata yesterday after 10grams of cocaine were found hidden in her 'pandoro', a traditional Italian sweet yeast bread, mixed in with the icing sugar, Il Resto del Carlino, an online paper for the Emilia Romagna and Marche regions, reported. She is faced with six months in jail and a 2,000 fine.