South Dakota Baffles Rest of America With New Drug Slogan, ‘Meth. We’re On It’

$449,000 campaign gets less-than-glowing feedback

The new campaign was aimed at addressing a meth epidemic the state says is "growing at an alarming rate."
State of South Dakota

If someone tells you they’re “on” meth, you’d be justified in being concerned. And this week, quite a few people are concerned for South Dakota.

The state’s new anti-drug campaign, announced by Gov. Kristi L. Noem on Monday, uses some eyebrow-raising double meaning with its slogan, “Meth. We’re on it.”

Created by Minneapolis agency Broadhead on a reported budget of $449,000, according to the Argus Leader, the campaign sparked a quick wave of skeptical commentary in social media.

“I can’t imagine this is what they intended to do,” Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, told The Washington Post. “Any good marketer would look at this and say: ‘Yeah, let’s not do that.'”

State officials had hoped the “Meth. We’re on it” campaign would convey the state’s increased focus on combatting meth abuse, which had accounted for 83% of court admissions for controlled substance cases in 2019.

“The campaign is inclusive and empowering and establishes a movement for all South Dakotans to take an active role in keeping our state a great place to live,” said Laurie Gill, South Dakota secretary of the Department of Social Services, in a statement about the campaign. “We’re encouraging everyone to work together to eliminate meth.”

The governor has so far defended the ad campaign, praising it for getting people talking about meth addiction.

“South Dakota’s meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate,” Noem said in her original announcement of the campaign. “It impacts every community in our state and threatens the success of the next generation. It is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity while destroying people and their families. This is our problem, and together, we need to get on it.”

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