In an effort to get its message out to younger kids, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America has signed on a little-known property called the Hombeez as its official kid spokescritters. The beez will make their debut in a new PSA produced by Stamford, Connecticut-based Just Kid Inc. that’s slated for release across the U.S. in the first quarter of 1999. The Partnership estimates that about US$10 million worth of national TV air time will be donated for the 30-second cel animation spot aimed at kids ages six to nine.
‘One of the things that we know about kids is that they are very anti-drug at that age,’ says the Partnership’s executive VP and director of creative development, Doria Steedman. ‘The PSA is designed to maintain that anti-drug attitude.’
The spot opens with the Hombeez playing basketball on an inner-city court when four ‘drug bugs’-described by Just Kid Inc.’s creative director Bruce Miller as ‘nasty-looking, stoned-out cockroaches’-enter the scene. ‘They come out and challenge the Hombeez to a game, thinking that they’re it, that they’re cool and everything,’ says Miller. ‘And as the game gets going, you see how the drugs have affected these drug bugs so bad that they start screwing up.’
In the end, the Hombeez win 100 to zero, with the tag line ‘the lesson here is plain to see, drug-free is the way to bee.’ The spot is narrated by hip-hop senior statesmen Full Force, who put a script co-written by Miller and Hombeez creator Dann Gershon to music. The animation is being done by Colossal Pictures, which, along with Full Force, Just Kid Inc. and Gershon’s publishing house, Noware Books, is donating the time free of charge to the Partnership.
Until now, the Hombeez have only appeared in two books written by Gershon, both illustrated by David Robinson and published by Noware Books. Together, 50,000 copies of the title have shipped since last July. However, Gershon already has four new titles in the works, including Slam Dunk, the inspiration for the PSA, which will be co-written with Full Force. All of the books, which Gershon describes as ‘written in rhyme, kind of like a hip-hop Dr. Seuss,’ include the tag line ‘drug free is the way to bee,’ and Gershon will be donating a percentage of sales to the Partnership.
Gershon hopes to produce hip-hop albums and license the characters out to plush and apparel manufacturers once the PSAs have gained exposure for the property, producing a varied line of goods carrying an anti-drug message.