South Dakota gets roasted for new “Meth. I’m on it” public awareness campaign

David Matthews, New York Daily News

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem launched an ambitious anti-meth campaign on Monday.

Taglined “Meth. We’re On It.” the initiative will feature a TV ad, billboards, posters featuring South Dakotans of different ages who are addicted to meth and a website with more information and resources.

The state’s meth usage is “growing at an alarming rate” and impacts every community in the state, Noem said in the campaign’s public service announcement.

“This is our problem and together, we need to get on it,” Noem said.

The South Dakota Department of Social Service is behind the campaign, working with Minneapolis-based ad agency Broadhead. The state’s contract with the agency expires on May 31, 2020. So far the state has paid nearly $450,000 on the campaign.

Critics pointed out on social media that the tagline implies the entire state is taking the illicit substance.

“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,’ ” Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, told The Washington Post. “I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at. That’s what’s happening right now.”

“What were they thinking?” Beth Egan, an associate professor for advertising at Syracuse University, asked.

Reactions on social media were less tactful.

“Phrasing,” one person wrote.

“The state of South Dakota spent $500k on an ad campaign to let everyone know we’re on meth,” another joked. “This is a great sequel to 2014’s Don’t Jerk and Drive,” he added, referencing a previous South Dakota erratic driving campaign that was unceremoniously pulled.

Gov. Noem pushed those concerns aside and said that anything that got people talking about meth use in the state was good.

“It is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems and stretching our drug treatment capacity while destroying people and their families,” Noem said.

“I am confident South Dakota can lead the country in this effort and demonstrate ways we can aggressively combat addiction and spark opportunities for recovery,” she added.

Outside of the ad campaign, the state is also dedicating nearly $2 million to treatment services and school-based prevention programming as well as task forces in Sioux Falls and Pennington County, which includes Rapid City and the area around Mount Rushmore.


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