Issue: Awareness for South Dakota’s meth problem is necessary. But does awareness equal action?


Editorial Board

‘Meth, We’re On It.’

That’s the new campaign for the state of South Dakota.

At first, it looked like a bad “Key and Peele” skit or something that you’d see on “Saturday Night Live.”

But it wasn’t that. This was real.

The tag line was created by Broadhead Co., an advertising and marketing agency based out of Minneapolis. Not only was the money not kept locally, the tag line had a pretty heavy price tag, clocking in at $449,000 of taxpayer dollars.

The entirety of the contract with Broadhead Co. is not to exceed $1.4 million.

We at The Collegian believe that’s quite expensive for a meme.

But, according to a tweet by Gov. Kristi Noem, the campaign is working the way it was intended to.

“Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working… #thanks #MethWeAreOnIt,” her tweet read.

Noem was right. People were talking about it. The campaign was trending on Twitter.

But people were talking about it for all the wrong reasons. People are talking about the campaign not for awareness but for laughs.

“I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at,” Bill Pearce, an assistant dean at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business told The Washington Post. “That’s what’s happening right now.”

We at The Collegian believe that the advertising campaign is tone deaf.

There is a methamphetamine problem in South Dakota, but making a provocative meme out of it feels insensitive considering the amount of families impacted by the devastating drug.

“Meth and its use in South Dakota is growing at an alarming rate,” Noem said in a video introducing the new campaign.

In 2018 alone, there were 3,648 meth arrests in 59 counties, according to High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). In that same year, more than 45,918 grams of meth were seized in the state.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 200 mg is the reported fatal amount. The amount of meth seized in the state was enough for 229,590 fatal doses, or more than a quarter of the state’s population.

According to Noem, South Dakota students in the ninth grade who have used meth is double the national average.

We at The Collegian believe that the $449,000 could’ve been spent more wisely.

We believe that this money could’ve been spent toward treatment facilities and other rehabilitation efforts. We also realize that there is already money going to these efforts.

For help or more information to get involved, visit, or text ‘ONMETH’ to 898211.

The Collegian Editorial Board meets weekly and agrees on the issue of the editorial. The editorial represents the opinion of The Collegian.