I regard South Dakota as my second home state. I have family there, many of my friends reside there, I went to college there and I was even born there. So on Monday when the South Dakota government released a new ad campaign, it was only a matter of time until I noticed.
They rolled out an anti-drug campaign featuring people like a old West River rancher, a young football team, a younger blonde female farmer, a young guy in a coffee shop, an older woman in church, a younger man with his young son, and others saying, “Meth, I’m on it.”
At first, it made me stop and say, “What?” This nice old man is on meth? What is happening? I wasn’t the only one confused. Conversations blew up all around South Dakota and the rest of the country about the new ad campaign.
So many of my South Dakota friends shared their thoughts about it. My friend Emily works for the NRCS National Resources Conservation Services in Huron, South Dakota and she was a little frustrated how her state was being represented on the national scale.
It was announced on the Monday that the ad campaign costs nearly $1.4 million and is aimed at tackling the state’s methamphetamine epidemic.
It includes $449,000 paid to Broadhead, which is a Minneapolis-based ad agency that created the tagline. A press release for the campaign said it uses “impactful, even shocking” images of South Dakotans to try to communicate that meth should be tackled by everyone.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said the backlash they received from the campaign proves the effort to raise awareness is working.
Gov. Kristi Noem defended the campaign, posting, “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working …”
Noem, appearing in a video for the campaign, said South Dakota’s meth problem is “growing at an alarming rate.”
According to the state’s Department of Social Services, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported using meth in the last year is double the national average.
The state has also seen the number of people seeking treatment for meth addiction double from 2014 to 2018. Just for comparison, according to a March 2019 Star Tribune article, here in Minnesota, law enforcement recovered 1,150 pounds in 2018, more than five times the amount in 2014.
In all fairness, I’d have to give some props to South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem.
She’s right. People are now talking about South Dakota’s meth problem and are now are aware of it. The ad campaign I would consider a success.