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'Meth. We're on it' – South Dakota's new public health ads raise eyebrows

The Guardian logo The Guardian 11/18/2019 Luke O'Neil

South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, was hoping a new ad campaign would draw attention to methamphetamine addiction in her state. It worked, but perhaps not in the way she intended.

The campaign’s slogan, unveiled this week, bluntly, if not quite clearly, lays out the issue: “Meth. We’re on it.” The words are laid over the outline of the state in one poster, and appear on pictures of people from various walks of life in others.

“There’s a problem in South Dakota and we all need to get on it,” the posters explains. “Because together we can get meth out of here.”

“South Dakota’s meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate,” Noem says in a video introducing the campaign, further details about which can be found at the aptly named website OnMeth.com. “It impacts every community in our state and it threatens the success of the next generation.”

Many social media users were quick to mock the slogan’s phrasing.

South Dakota’s department of social services paid the Minneapolis marketing agent Broadhead $449,000 for the campaign, according to the Argus Leader.

“Eighty-three percent of South Dakota’s 2019 court admissions for controlled substances are related to meth,” the paper noted, citing the social services secretary, Laurie Gill.

“It’s evident there’s a need for an aggressive approach to reduce use of the devastating drug,” Gill said in a statement. “This is a movement to educate South Dakotans on the signs of addiction, the treatment resources that are available and how to implement prevention techniques in their homes and among their communities.”

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