South Dakota tells the world it’s on meth (or how to make a fool of your state for less than $500,000)


Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves…

South Dakota wanted to take on its burgeoning methamphetamine problem head on, so it invested heavily both in an attempt to treat addicts and a marketing campaign to let people know the state was serious about addressing the crisis.

Well, at least one of these things might work:

South Dakota is on meth — at least, that’s the message behind a new anti-drug ad campaign so widely mocked that one marketing expert could only laugh before calling it “a colossal blunder.”

The “Meth. We’re On It.” awareness initiative was unveiled Monday by South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) to address the state’s methamphetamine crisis. In a news release, officials underscored the importance of combating drug use in a state where twice as many 12- to 17-year-olds reported using meth compared with the national average.

According to news reports, Broadhead Co. out of Minneapolis was responsible for the meth campaign, which cost about $449,000

 The state’s contract with Broadhead, effective until May 31, 2020, states that the contract shouldn’t exceed $1.4 million.

In its proposal, Broadhead says the tagline “I’m on Meth” will create “a movement for all South Dakotans to take an active role in keeping their state a great place to live.”

Right… Because when someone walks up to you and says “I’m on Meth,” the first thing you’re thinking is, “Wow! I want to live near that guy!”

Broadhead has several other campaigns on its website that have kind of that “edgy” feel to them, with many of them related to agriculture:


Given their motto of breaking through with non-status quo ideas, I was left wondering if “Cow Lives Matter” was taken… Then there was this:


I don’t even want to know what that thing is used for, but I now have much more sympathy for cows than I did before I saw this…


I kept imagining this conversation going on at Broadhead when it came to the “meth” campaign:

Rep 1: Hey, remember our #porkplease campaign? I bet we can’t look any dumber with an awkward approach than that!

Rep 2: Hold my beer…

In any case, here are two “teachable moments” to take away from this fiasco:

PARANOIA IS YOUR FRIEND: As we have said time and time again here, paranoia is your best friend when launching any kind of public endeavor. It’s the reason I reread the word “public” every time I write it, just to avoid something like this:


It’s why magazine names should really be considered when you start designing things:


Even if you think, “There’s no way this could be a problem…” just think again:


Or why you need you still need to “consider the fold” when you design pages:


You want to always ask yourself, “How could this thing go wrong?” The first person who said, “Meth? I’m on it!” should have had six people around him/her saying, “Uh… PHRASING!”


OBSERVE FILAK’S FIRST RULE OF HOLES: The rule is simple: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Instead, Gov. Kristi Noem “doubled down” on the meth slogan in media statements after Twitter basically had a good laugh at her state’s expense.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is defending the state’s launch of an anti-drug campaign with the slogan “Meth, we’re on it.”

The tagline drew a mix of criticism and ridicule across Twitter on Monday, but Noem cited the backlash as proof that efforts to raise awareness around South Dakota’s methamphetamine crisis was, in fact, working.

“Meth is IN SD. Twitter can make a joke of it, but when it comes down to it – Meth is a serious problem in SD. We are here to Get. It. OUT,” Noem tweeted Monday night.

She also decided that it was a good thing everyone was now asking if the entire state was on meth:


OK, look, I get that everyone is paying attention to you now, and there’s nothing you can do about it (and you just blew through about half-a-million dollars to turn your state into a laughing stock). And we can argue that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” until the end of time.

However, saying we told everyone “we’re on meth” was a good idea because it “drew attention” is like saying former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford helped people understand the severity of the city’s crack epidemic:


Or trying to combat child sex abuse with the slogan: “Kids, We Feel You.”

Once you realize you’re going to do more harm than good when you continue to insist this really isn’t as bad as people are making it out to be, stop digging.


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