The nonprofit Ad Council is bringing together a wide cohort of social media platforms and digital media companies to launch a sweeping public awareness initiative to curb the use of synthetic opioids.
Google, Meta, Reddit, Snap, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter and Vice Media will all use their platforms to help distribute content designed to educate young people about the “dangers and prevalence of fentanyl in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs” while helping those who are addicted find resources and help. Google, Meta and Snap are also providing funding for the campaign.
An estimated 190 people are dying every day across the country of overdoses from synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Last year, 108,000 people died, a 52% increase from the prior two years — a sign that the pandemic and economic volatility have exacerbated the crisis.
Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman said people don’t know as much as they should about the dangers of fentanyl and that an information campaign can help curb the nation’s drug crisis by bringing “lifesaving awareness directly to those who need it.”
The social media focus of this latest campaign expands the council’s well-known work into new arenas. The nonprofit is known for iconic billboards and television ad campaigns such as Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk and Smokey Bear.
With young adults between the ages of 16 to 24 spending at least three hours daily on social media platforms, the goal of the campaign is to reach audiences where they are now. The organization hopes the collaborations will help messages resonate.
“As the opioid epidemic has surged during the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to eradicate drug dealers from Snapchat, while partnering closely with parents, expert organizations, and law enforcement to better understand how we can fight this national crisis,” said Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy. “It became clear that an industry-wide approach was needed to help educate youth and families about the deadly risks associated with counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.”
JOAN will be the creative agency partner for this work, which will include a series of campaigns that include public service announcements, faith-based programs, messenger strategies and toolkits. Meta’s Creative Shop has also signed up to build a campaign that will focus on raising awareness about fentanyl and its dangers among parents and caregivers.
The Ad Council noted that Native Americans and Black communities experience higher rates of drug overdose deaths than white Americans and said it is committed to reaching Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) audiences with its campaign.
The Ad Council did not disclose how much the partners will spend on the initiative or details on its scope, saying only that it will roll out this summer with additional campaigns to follow.
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