‘Meth. We’re on it’: Anti-drug campaign in South Dakota raises more questions than answers

(Image: YouTube screenshot)

South Dakota has a methamphetamine epidemic but its campaign to raise awareness isn’t exactly going as planned.

“South Dakota’s meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate,” Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said in a new video launching an anti-drug campaign to deal with the rising number of addictions to crystal methamphetamine in the state.

(Video: YouTube/South Dakota Meth Prevention)

“This is our problem, and together, we need to get on it,” she said. “It is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity while destroying people and their families.”

But the problem wasn’t with the idea of the public service announcement, as it addressed the addiction issue in the state which has seen an 816 percent increase in meth-related arrests since 2011. The video and the $1.4 million campaign sparked ridicule with the launch, however, for its not so well-thought-out tagline.

“The resounding call-to-action in the PSA is ‘Meth. We’re on it,'” the video caption announced.

A Minnesota-based advertising agency, Broadhead Co., was paid nearly $500,000 as part of the initiative and came up with the phrase which is featured in the campaign advertising as people share that they are “on meth.”

(Video: YouTube/South Dakota Meth Prevention)

“We didn’t want this to look like every other anti-drug campaign,” Laurie Gill, the secretary for the Department of Social Services, said, according to Fox News.

Meth addiction in South Dakota is a “huge issue,” she added, justifying the cost the state’s Department of Social Services paid to the ad agency for the campaign which will include television advertising, billboards, posters, and a website.

After the launch on Monday, the terms “South Dakota” and “meth” were trending on Twitter in the U.S. as the tagline drew backlash and mockery for seeming to advertise for the drug rather than discourage its use.

Noem shot back at the critics, defending the campaign with a tweet saying “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working…”

State Rep. Fred Deutsch also offered thanks for the attention.

“We wanted to take real South Dakotans and give them this message that we all need to be on it. If you look at the numbers, it’s really easy to imagine the entire state of South Dakota being overcome by this thing,” Broadhead creative director Walt Burns said.

And an entire state on meth is exactly what Twitter users complained the ads implied.

Frieda Powers


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