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Meth. I'm on it. Genius or debacle?

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is to rise above the noise. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience, pull them in, and make a connection. There is an endless array of tools and strategies that marketers can use, but the closer to the edge you get, the more risk you take.

Such is the case with an ad campaign the state of South Dakota commissioned to address the dramatic rise in methamphetamine use. The tag lines?

Meth. I'm on it.
Meth. We're on it.

The logo? An outline of the state of South Dakota with the tagline in it.

There is an old saying in marketing, "There is no such thing as bad publicity." However, the saying was born before social media existed, and the empowerment it gives the court of public opinion. In the case of South Dakota, the court of public opinion has swiftly made its decision. What was South Dakota thinking?

The campaign, produced at the cost of $449,000 by a Minneapolis based marketing firm, comes with web, print, and TV ad assets. The message is relevant and accurate. The opioid epidemic does impact everyone. When you get past the tag line and logo, the goal was clear, inform an audience that the meth problem in South Dakota affects everyone - socially, economically, criminally, and healthwise. However, the delivery of this message is suspect when you scrap the surface.

An additional issue is when you visit the YouTube channel for South Dakota Meth Prevention the cover art for the page shows a person of color. According to the 2012 United Census, 1.7% of the population in South Dakota identifies as that racial group.

Conversely, here we all are, sipping our morning coffee, all talking about, "Meth. I'm on it." If the goal was awareness, this campaign has already hit a home run. Additionally if you dig a little deeper, you'll find other assets within the campaign that land stronger. Further, when you look at the visuals on other ads, they show different generations, genders, and races all declaring, "I'm on meth."

So what do you think? Is this campaign a debacle? Is this cringeworthy SNL material?

Or was this campaign genius? Is it a success because people are talking about the problems of meth addiction in South Dakota (and by proxy the United States)?

Let me know what you think in the comments below, on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

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