Addressing Opioid Addiction From a Population Health Perspective
“Until very recently, advertising aimed at combatting drug use has pretty much been within the purview of government and nonprofit anti-drug organizations,” notes copywriter and regular SHCM contributor Peter Hochstein.
“Partnership for a Drug Free America, for example, ran a famous TV spot during the 1980s showing an egg getting cracked into a hot frying pan while an announcer, with just a hint of menace, warned, ‘This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?’
“But advertising to discourage drug use, whose sponsors according to Advertising Age spent as much as a million dollars a day 30 or so years ago, largely fizzled out. Now a hospital system has taken a giant step to bridge that breach.
“That system is Premier Health, with 1971 beds spread out among four hospitals on six campuses in and near the city of Dayton, Ohio. Premier Health’s entry into this advertising category is a rare instance of a hospital system spending money to advertise about opioid addiction—or any drug addiction—as a public service.
According to Mary Boosalis, Premier Health’s president and CEO, opioid addiction is currently the biggest population health problem in her area.
“The thought was, we need to develop specific efforts to truly improve the health of the community, not just to say we take care of you when you’re sick,” she says.
“The campaign is made up of separate and distinct parts, each part aimed at a different audience,” Hochstein says. “This has affected not only media buys but also advertising executions. A common line, ‘Don’t let a prescription turn into an addiction,’ ties the separate elements together.”
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