72ANDSUNNY, Los Angeles / TRUTH, AD COUNCIL, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY / 2019
A deadly opioid epidemic is ravaging the United States. In 2016, 1 out of 5 young adult deaths were opioid related.
As a trusted youth tobacco prevention brand for two decades, truth® had the relationship with young people to help take on this growing threat to their lives. Together with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council, we sought to create a solution.
Standing in our way: the overwhelming forces fueling the epidemic. Big Pharma has a profit motive to sell more and more pills. Doctors were overprescribing, leading to accessible opioids in young Americans’ homes.
Above all? The misperceptions held by our audience. The two most deep-rooted, and potentially deadly: Opioids aren’t that addictive. And addiction will never happen to me.
Simply put, young people underestimated the addictive power of opioids, and overestimated their willpower against it.
Our objective was to change their minds.
Treatment Box set out to make young adults face the opioid crisis by placing them inside the treatment room as they observed a real medically supervised detox. Using groundbreaking technology we created the illusion that the traditionally private detox room had no walls, giving passersby an intimate and visceral education of the ugly realities of addiction.
The most likely people to develop an opioid addiction are those who have experimented with opioids in their youth (two-thirds are admitted into treatment before age 25). We set-out to slow the epidemic by making sure people never thought to try opioids in the first place.
Focusing on 18-34 year olds Americans, we uncovered a paradox in their minds during research.
They saw opioids everywhere. There were daily reports of overdoses. Raids on pill mills. Stories of people in their communities getting addicted. Celebrities they admired going to rehab or worse, dying.
Yet, young people drastically underestimated just how addictive opioids could be—and overestimated their willpower to resist addiction.
Simply put: opioid addiction can happen to anyone but me.
They suffered not from lack of awareness, but lack of self-awareness.
Our strategy was to expose young people’s biggest blindspot: themselves.
For 5 days we filmed Rebekkah, a real 26 year old opioid addict, 24/7 in a private treatment center we built with green screen walls and cameras. Then, we replicated the dimensions of her detox room with an LED screen box in NYC, streaming her detox live.
The installation used real time stitching to film passersby and place them in the background, creating the illusion the detox room had no walls.
To provide treatment asap we had a narrow 24 hour window from finding a patient to filming. A production team of 20 was on 24/7 standby making thousands of calls to doctors and rehab facilities.
The installation formed the foundation of our film campaign which launched on October 22nd, 2018. Together with the Ad Council, we secured donated media from Viacom, NBCUniversal, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Spotify in order to reach our 18-34 year old audience.
Treatment Box brought young people inside a live opioid detox to help them realize addiction could happen to them.
The campaign garnered 35MM+ videos views. With 1.5MM+ social engagements, Treatment Box beat out truth’s next best comparable campaign by 145%.
Most importantly, we drastically changed young people’s perceptions and actions towards opioids. 8 weeks post-launch, our audience showed:
36% increase in agreement with the statement “Anyone can become addicted to prescription opioids”
46% increase in agreement with the fact that “Opioid dependence can happen in just five days.”
40% more likely to look up information about the opioid epidemic
29% more likely to talk to a friend about the opioid epidemic
While the road to beat this threat is long and challenging, change starts with individuals. We set out to save lives, and starting with Rebekkah’s, we hope to continue to spread lifesaving information across the United States.