From Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” of the 1980s to the Montana Meth Project’s “Not Even Once” of the early aughts, in the battle for public awareness, a succinct, memorable tagline has always been paramount.
Hewing to the form, South Dakota rolled out its own anti-meth awareness campaign Monday with the announcement: “Meth. We’re On It.”
To which many on social media responded: Wait, what?
“Every single one of us in South Dakota can partner to be on meth.” — the governor. https://t.co/fI3vReDKk6— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) November 18, 2019
The promos feature young kids proudly proclaiming, “I’m on meth.” A narrator goes on to explain that meth is everyone’s problem, “and we need to get on it.”
“This campaign is going to be about solutions and hope, and how every single one of us in South Dakota can partner to be on meth,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in a Facebook video.
If the ad gave you pause, that’s the goal, says Dean Broadhead, CEO of Broadhead Company, the Minneapolis-based marketing and ad agency responsible for the campaign.
“That is our job,” he said, “to stop people in their tracks.”
According to the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, the state of South Dakota spent $449,000 on the statewide ad campaign. Though Broadhead deferred to the state of South Dakota as to why they chose this campaign over others, he did note that it “tested well.”
“Whenever you have a campaign that’s a little on the edge you’re going to have opinions going both ways,” he said. “I think that’s what dialogue and discourse is all about. People can talk about the method.”
But the provocative approach, published on the website “onmeth.com,” elicited widespread criticism.
“If you’re having a rough day, just remember you’re not the governor of the state of South Dakota,” wrote one Twitter user.
If you're having a rough day, just remember you're not the governor of the state of South Dakota. The state launched a new campaign called "ONmeth" about battling meth addiction and apparently the tagline is "Meth. We're on it." pic.twitter.com/Gx72LSEIxa— Mack (@_Kenziepuff) November 18, 2019
“How about, Where’s the meth?” wrote another, a reference to the circa 1980s Wendy’s commercials.
Hey South Dakota, how about, "Where's the Meth?" pic.twitter.com/xiveZHvyka— Lars McMurtry (@larsmcmurtry) November 18, 2019
Others asked whether the ad is a proper use of taxpayer money. “How many rural rehab centers could you have created with your $449,000 Minneapolis-based ad campaign?”
.@govkristinoem did South Dakota really just trademark "Meth, We're On It?" What a horrible idea. How many rural rehab centers could you have created with your $449,000 Minneapolis-based ad campaign? https://t.co/7M7hYp7kz8— Matt Hildreth (@mhildreth) November 18, 2019
Even some law enforcement poked fun at it, including police in Lenexa, Kansas, who tweeted: “Meth. We aren’t.”
Meth. We aren't.— Lenexa Police (@LenexaPolice) November 18, 2019
Yet some questioned whether the online fervor was proof the ad campaign had accomplished its goal, like Broadhead planned.
"South Dakota's public-awareness campaign about meth totally backfired!"— jon gabriel (@exjon) November 18, 2019
-- 10 million people on Twitter now talking about South Dakota and meth
“South Dakota’s public-awareness campaign about meth totally backfired!’ — 10 million people on Twitter now talking about South Dakota and meth” one Twitter user ribbed.