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Edgy meth campaign sparks inevitable outrage

South Dakota meth campaign
(Image credit: South Dakota)

Looking for a way to get loads of people talking about a campaign? If all that matters is awareness, then you could probably do worse than to follow the example of South Dakota's new meth awareness campaign – as long as you don't mind the inevitable backlash.

The US state has a meth problem, and its latest approach is, at least, getting people talking, thanks to a campaign centred around a logo featuring the message, 'Meth. We're on it.' It's a clever slogan that's all about the double meaning – you can read it as a statement that it's tackling the meth problem, or an admission that everyone's on meth – and inevitably it's rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way (see our guide to logo design for ideas on getting people's attention without necessarily making them cross).

The campaign's the work of Minneapolis agency, Broadhead, which has come up with a hard-hitting logo, featuring the outline of South Dakota overlaid with the troublesome slogan, plus a number of ads featuring photos of various ordinary people combined with the same slogan; again, working that double meaning hard.

Over on the campaign's Facebook page it's already drawing plenty of ire, with commenters making it very clear that they don't approve, in the strongest possible terms. And of course there's a similar volume of outrage over on Twitter, with many commenters furious at reports that Broadhead was paid just under half a million dollars for the campaign.

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Given just how much it's got people talking about it, though, it seems to have been money well spent, and South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, has been quick to point out the campaign's effectiveness; at least from an awareness point of view.

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This isn't the first time that South Dakota's come up with an awareness campaign that's used a double-meaning to stir up controversy, either. Back in 2014 it ran a road safety campaign with the unforgettable slogan, 'Don't jerk and drive'. 

Stop sniggering at the back; clearly it was aimed at the widespread problem of people jerking the steering wheel on icy roads and crashing their cars.

Don't Jerk and Drive campaign

Wise words, mate (Image credit: South Dakota)

Sadly that campaign didn't quite have the impact that South Dakota hoped for, and it was withdrawn a few months later. You can learn more about the more successful meth campaign here.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, cat-wrangler and occasional street performer who's written for a multitude of publications over the past quarter of a century, including Creative Bloq, T3, PC Gamer and a whole load of long-dead print magazines.