Think South Dakota’s “Meth. We’re on it.” is a dumb slogan? You’re not in the target market

South Dakota spent nearly half a million dollars on its anti-drug campaign slogan “Meth. We’re on it.” The ridicule spread far and wide.

Ha, ha! We’re from South Dakota and we’re telling everyone we’re on meth! Those stupid hicks.

Yeah, it looked pretty silly to me, too. Because I’m not on meth. No one I know is on meth. Meth is decimating rural communities; South Dakota is about as rural as it gets. Are they too stupid to realize the double entendre is making them look like fools?

I’m not in the target market.

Who is the target market?

People in South Dakota who are on meth as well as people who want to do something about it.

And if they click through, this is what they see at South Dakota’s website onmeth.com

If you need help, you can get help. There’s a text number, a phone number, and while website full of resources, including a list of treatment facilities.

And if you want to help, there’s a list of useful suggestions along with a tip line to report drug dealers.

This campaign went viral. Here’s what you get if you search “South Dakota” (not “South Dakota meth,” but just the name of the state) on Google right now:

Yup. The top search results are about the campaign.

Was this a good idea?

This is not going to be good for South Dakota tourism. It will perpetuate biases about drugs in the midwest. The people who ran this campaign will be ridiculed for years.

They look like fools.

On the other hand, I think this program, because of its viral nature and the resources it provides, may do lots of actual good in helping communities and addicts. The state and its governor, Kristi Noem, are standing up and saying, effectively, “This has gone far enough. We will do anything to stop the spread of meth in South Dakota, and we don’t care if lots of you think we look foolish. We only care about slowing and reversing the toll of addiction.”

Ask yourself: would you be willing to look like a fool if it made a big difference to something you cared deeply about?

Most of us wouldn’t have the courage. But maybe we should.

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  1. Wizard of Ads Roy Williams has always maintained that unless an ad is strong enough to put off some folks who see or hear it, it’s not strong enough to pull in the audience you want to reach. Ta-daa!

    1. Love this post, Josh! I hope the end results justify the means of execution. If so, it’s well worth it. I’ll add it to my earlier post on the Bethany College IMC Think Tank page as well.

  2. It is a brilliant campaign and I applaud SD for having the guts to run it. Most businesses don’t have the guts to run the kind of campaigns that actually move the needle. Following Garrison’s lead and paraphrasing Roy Williams – an ad’s ability to attract, like a magnet, is in direct correlation to its ability to repel.

  3. As a Minnesotan, I think it’s great. Any time we can help make the Dakotas seem like they’re populated with lesser beings than we, it’s a win. 😉

    Seriously, I agree that (a) drugs are a problem in the Upper Midwest, (b) this ad campaign is directed primarily at people in the state of SD, and not the rest of us so much, and (c) the government of SD is apparently willing to suffer the slings and arrows of those who are willing to ignore the humanity of the issue so that they can poke fun instead – so long as doing so helps the people of their state. I applaud this campaign. Once a viewer gets past the prepubescent sniggering from the double entendre, and begins to realize that people are suffering and need help, maybe they (me/we) will pay some logical, thoughtful time on how best to help.