Tuesday, November 19, 2019

South Dakota anti-meth ad campaign widely mocked, but governor says it's doing its job by getting people's attention

Part of the ad campaign
South Dakota is getting a lot of attention for a new ad campaign to raise awareness of the state's methamphetamine problem—likely not in the way state officials wanted. The campaign has been widely mocked for making it sound as if meth use is a good thing, Michael Brice-Saddler reports for The Washington Post.

Gov. Kristi L. Noem unveiled the "Meth. We're On It." awareness initiative on Monday, which includes a TV ad, billboards, posters, and a website; an accompanying news release highlighted the fact that meth use among South Dakota teens is double the national average, Liza Kaczke reports for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls.

"But Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said any sincere messaging by the governor was lost by an ad campaign that embodies 'poor strategy and poor execution,'" Brice-Saddler reports. "I can’t imagine this is what they intended to do; any good marketer would look at this and say: 'Yeah, let’s not do that.' . . . I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at. That’s what’s happening right now."

The state's Department of Social Services has paid Minneapolis ad agency Broadhead Co. nearly $450,000 for the campaign. The contract allows for up to $1.4 million in payments. Social media immediately blew up with posts and tweets mocking the ads, but Noem declared the campaign a success because she believed it's fulfilling its mission of raising awareness, Kaczke reports.

Noem "might have added that the campaign only continues a tradition of weird South Dakota marketing," Nat Ives writes for The Wall Street Journal. "It follows a campaign seeking long-term residents that set a pretty low bar (“Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?”) and a safe-driving push themed “Don’t Jerk and Drive.” The state canceled that one after complaints."

Love the campaign or hate it, but one thing's for sure: a lot more people are talking about South Dakota's meth problem this week than last week.

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