Ad Council Collaborates with Snap, YouTube for Latest Fentanyl Youth Awareness Campaign


The Ad Council is once again partnering with leading tech companies to support its public awareness initiative raising the alarm about the risks of fentanyl.

The latest effort is a campaign called Real Deal on Fentanyl, which involves Snap, YouTube and the work of creative agency JOAN.

The two-minute commercial is set at a high school in Holyoke, Massachusetts, an area that has been hit hard by the national opioid epidemic. The educational effort focuses on class-like lessons about the dangers of fentanyl taught by former drug dealers.

Students are introduced to the hidden risks associated with fentanyl, as “surrogate dealers” note that the illicit substance can be mixed with other drugs and have deadly effects on unsuspecting victims. Dealers also discussed the importance of having naloxone nasal spray available as a life-saving remedy to counter the effects of a fentanyl overdose.

The opioid overdose crisis has had catastrophic effects on the United States over the past decade, with the issue growing in concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year revealed that 2021 was the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths in the United States, part of a broader trend where deaths increased by 50% over the past two years.

The multi-channel campaign work was developed pro bono by JOAN, with assistance from Second Chance Studios and Shatterproof and is being launched during Ad Week. The real deal on fentanyl is also making its debut amid growing concerns about “rainbow fentanyl” and the potential risks facing young children.

The Ad Council has been committed to fighting opioid addiction and promoting fentanyl awareness among young people in recent months, bringing in technology partners like Snap, Google and Meta.

Michelle Hillman, head of campaign development at the Ad Council, said reaching young people who consume content through digital media services and are active on social media platforms meant leveraging relationships with big tech companies.

She added that the campaign focuses on educating young people who may not be fully aware of the dangers associated with fentanyl. Hillman said JOAN explained from a strategic perspective that the campaign needed to take an unconventional approach based on authenticity and credibility to be effective.

Hillman said the goal is to provide young people with information about the deadly and illicit substance from “unexpected and highly qualified sources” to drill into them.

“We try to get kids to so they can learn the facts about fentanyl, vital tips on how to recognize an overdose as well as naloxone so they can understand the lessons in hopes of saving children’s lives,” she said.

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