Five years ago, the government of South Dakota rolled out and promptly rolled back an initiative called “Don’t Jerk and Drive” that was designed to promote safe driving in snowy conditions but sounded like a call against onanism on the road.
One moment of national embarrassment might cause a state to triple check that its four-word slogans express the public-health idea they’re meant to convey — and only that idea. But a new anti-methamphetamine campaign suggests that the government in Pierre did not learn from its masturbatory misfire.
To promote the new anti-drug initiative, the state’s Department of Social Services approved a $449,000 payment to a Minneapolis-based ad agency that did not understand that the sentence construction makes “meth” the substance that South Dakota is “on.” Any hope that the slogan was meant to be a poor-taste double entendre was dismissed in a pair of announcement videos from Governor Kristi Noem: “This is our problem and together we need to get on it.”
The website — onmeth.com — isn’t aiding the problem, nor are the individual posters, in which South Dakotans whose overall health suggests they’re not on meth are pictured with the slogan: “Meth. I’m on it.”
Though meth use in the state is alarming — as of August, 83 percent of court admissions for controlled-substance offenses were meth-related — the allocation for the project seems a little off. The 2020 state budget includes $1 million for meth-treatment services and $730,000 for meth-prevention programming in schools, meaning that the $449,000 paid for the ad represents 20 percent of public funding for anti-meth efforts for the year.