South Dakota's $500K Anti-Meth Campaign Says 'We're On It' — and Draws Major Criticism Online
South Dakota's Governor's Office told PEOPLE that the campaign is aimed at raising awareness and getting people talking about solutions
South Dakota is taking a stand against the use of methamphetamine — but their efforts have not gone over very well.
On Monday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced the launch of her anti-meth campaign titled “Meth: We’re On It,” which is designed to tackle the state’s growing meth crisis and prevent it from affecting future generations.
The campaign, which reportedly cost close to $500,000 to develop and launch, has already been promoted across the state through television advertisements, billboards, posters and a website, Argus Leader reports.
Governor Noem was also featured in a public service announcement video, where she called on South Dakota residents to get involved by helping those who struggle with meth addiction and preventing it from affecting their community further.
“South Dakota’s meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate. It impacts every community in our state, and it threatens the success of the next generation,” Noem says. “This is our problem and together, we need to get on it.”
“If you see something happening or you know of someone who needs help, call 1-800-920-4343 or go to onmeth.com,” she continues. “Let’s get meth out of South Dakota.”
However, Noem’s efforts did not appear to be well received by many Twitter users, who mocked the campaign’s title.
“My home state just announced a new drug awareness campaign,” wrote one user. “Yes this is real and yes the state spent nearly half a million dollars on it.”
“it’s a proud day to be south dakotan, apparently,” added the user. “or an embarrassing one, depending on your perspective.”
“For half the cost of this campaign I will develop an even better slogan: ‘Drugs. Hell yeah,'” joked another person.
“I didn’t think this was a real ad from the South Dakota Department of Social Services. But it is,” tweeted someone else.
“Meth is trending. Perhaps not a great sign South Dakota,” wrote one user.
“I love that they trademarked it. Don’t worry, South Dakota, no one’s going to take your slogan,” quipped another person.
Others, meanwhile, supported the state for doing exactly what they set out to do: start a conversation.
“I hope you’ve all figured out that South Dakota‘s ad agency knows exactly what it’s doing and you’re giving them the attention they wanted? (If their slogan had been of the “Don’t do meth; it’s bad for you” ilk literally no one would be aware of SD’s anti-meth campaign today.)” wrote one user.
“South Dakota is running a brilliant campaign imo. Playing it safe would’ve been forgettable, but their ads have us talking. For the most part people only talk about things they either love or hate. No one talks about the restaurant that was “okay”. There’s power in polarity,” noted someone else.
“Laugh all you want but it got everyone talking about South Dakota‘s drug problem,” pointed out another user.
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Despite the criticism received over the internet, Governor Noem and her office stood by the controversial campaign.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Noem’s press secretary Kristin Wileman said that the campaign’s goal was to “raise awareness” and “get people talking” — both of which were “working.”
“South Dakota’s anti-meth campaign launch is sparking conversations around the state and the country,” she said. “The mission of the campaign is to raise awareness – to get people talking about how they can be part of the solution and not just the problem. It is working.”
“Through this campaign, we hope to emphasize that this is an issue that affects all of us. It’s critical that fighting meth and extending hope to users becomes part of any daily conversation,” Wileman went on. “This isn’t just someone else’s problem. It’s OUR problem. And we need to do something about it – as communities, neighbors, church groups, schools, volunteer groups and more.”
“This is a bold, innovative effort like the nation has never before seen. Over the next few weeks, this campaign will operate through various mediums to educate every person across South Dakota on signs of addiction, resources available to combat addiction, and strategies to engage communities in recovery,” she added. “I am confident South Dakota can lead the country in this effort and demonstrate ways we can aggressively combat addiction and spark opportunities for recovery.”