‘Crystal Mess’ Talks Tough to S.F. Gays

SAN FRANCISCO Independent Templin Brink Design launches a confrontational ad campaign this week for the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s HIV prevention program, warning that crystal methamphetamine use increases the chances of contracting the disease by 400 percent.

The outdoor ads, aimed at the city’s gay population, have been placed in the Castro and South of Market districts. Themed “Crystal Mess,” the campaign features images of diverse users engaging in high-risk behavior to illustrate the negative consequences of using the drug.

Copy is abrupt, e.g., “Crystal plays more tricks than you can,” “Hot? Not ” and “You’re in for a bumpy ride.” (Crystal meth users commonly refer to a single dose of the drug as a “bump.”)

Crystal meth is cheap, produces a sense of euphoria and lasts a long time, which has made it popular in the gay community in recent years. The high-risk sexual behavior that frequently occurs with crystal meth usage is blamed for an increase in HIV infection rates in San Francisco. The campaign states that gay men who use crystal meth are four times more likely to become infected with HIV than the gay community as a whole.

The ads from the San Francisco shop include direct links to substance abuse information and services offered by the City of San Francisco and partner community agencies.

The outdoor, which runs through Nov. 21, was strategically launched to coincide with San Francisco’s annual Castro Street Halloween celebration.

Campaign spending is estimated at just over $50,000. The photographer, Sven Wiederholt of San Francisco, donated his time, according to an agency representative.