How do you begin to tackle an
escalating health epidemic?
Partner directly with communities to create authentic messaging that resonates on a personal level.
Abuse makes headlines.
Recovery saves lives.
With all the headlines surrounding the opioid crisis, it’s easy to feel defeated. The shocking speed at which anyone can become addicted and high rates of overdose are all ghastly manifestations of a national epidemic. Despite all the tragedy associated with this addiction, people need to be reminded that there is hope – that recovery is possible.
Co-creation in the face of destruction.
In Minnesota, several groups were identified as being especially vulnerable to opioid abuse. In addition to the general public, we developed strategies to positively impact African American and American Indian populations. We chose to partner with artists in these groups to create messaging that would not only be culturally relevant, but engage communities in meaningful ways.
Using the arts to connect on a personal level.
In the African American community, we partnered with Danami-Maurice Champion, a respected soul and hip-hop artist, known for his upbeat, life-affirming music. Together, we wrote “Set Yourself Free,” a song about love’s power and the hope of recovery from opioid addiction.
Reaching people through the power of music.
The music video for “Set You Free” was recorded in a studio packed with first-rate musicians, who reached beyond shame and stigma to create a positive, jubilant vibe. The song was pushed out through social media and released to radio stations, generating a powerful ripple effect throughout the community. It serves as a vivid reminder that the process is as important as the outcome.
Tradition is prevention. Culture is treatment.
To engage with the Native American community, we enlisted the help of Thomas X, a gifted educator and hip-hop artist from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe. Guided by Thomas’ insight and research, our partnership explored opioid addiction through a tribal woman’s life experience. In keeping with the Ojibwe storytelling tradition, the initial video is ten minutes. For use across social media and other applications, three- and one-minute versions were created.
Authentic sources. Authentic messages.
Members of the Red Lake and Leech Lake Reservations participated in front of and behind the camera, participating in sacred ceremonies, composing original music, and delivering a video that takes viewers on a journey from addiction to recovery. It shows how Ojibwe traditions and culture can help break the cycle of addiction. Additionally, video interviews and behind the scenes content were used as supporting digital content.
Provide a reliable hub of information and resources.
To support the culturally-focused co-creation projects, and provide the general public with a consistent trustworthy source of information, the state asked us to revamp our successful, synthetics based website, KnowTheDangers.com to focus on the opioid crisis.
Spread the word.
When trying to overcome an issue where lives are literally hanging in the balance, you need to get your message out any-and-everywhere you can. From posters to brochures, bus ads to pump toppers, we got the word out about the dangers of opioids – and possibility of recovery.
Digital advertising allowed for focused targeting.
In addition to traditional online display ads, we also utilized Pandora to reach specific demographics that are at greater risk of possible opioid abuse.
While the opioid epidemic is ongoing, there is hope. Preliminary 2018 data shows a 20% decline in opioid deaths in Minnesota.