AMP warns kids about meth use

Meth use among Arizona teens is 4.3% - nearly double the national average. Last year, state officials, and funding and community partners, created the Arizona Meth Project (AMP) to generate public awareness and educate teens on the dangers of meth.

Meth use among Arizona teens is 4.3% - nearly double the national average. Last year, state officials, and funding and community partners, created the Arizona Meth Project (AMP) to generate public awareness and educate teens on the dangers of meth.

Ads featuring graphic depictions of the consequences and the tagline "Not Even Once" launched, and Riester was tasked with creating PR to support the ad campaign.

Christina Borrego, Riester's director of PR, says the challenge was to create a program that would engage kids and give community partners something tangible to implement.

Strategy
Riester came up with the idea to ask young people to sign a pledge indicating that they wouldn't try meth - not even once. The pledge encouraged participation from young people, and was also used by partner organizations.

"The pledge was symbolic and a public and private acknowledgment of this issue," Borrego says. "We wanted to make it something kids could do. [They] need to hear the message in their environment... see [it] in their activities."

Pledges were written on large vinyl sheets and then collected at various events and public venues. The sheets were revealed together publicly at the end of the effort. Materials given in pledge kits aimed to drive traffic to AMP's Web site.

Tactics
Pledge kits included instructions, 3-by-5-foot vinyl sheets, pens, and branded collateral materials deemed popular with youth, such as lip balms, T-shirts, rubber wristbands, glow sticks, and necklaces. The items were distributed to partners, including law enforcement agencies, Boys & Girls Clubs, and treatment centers, which collected signatures at local community events, including 4th of July parades, fairs, and music festivals.

"Kids took a lot of time into what they wrote on the pledge," Borrego says. "Heartfelt thought went into [it]."

Publicly revealing the pledges at Phoenix's Arizona Science Center - a popular educational destination for kids and parents - with state officials and partners created a "crescendo at the end of the pledge tour," Borrego adds. The center displayed the signature sheets for several weeks.

Results
Nearly 11,000 signatures were collected on almost 200 vinyl sheets. More than 25,000 pieces of collateral were distributed variously statewide.

"We touched [more than] 10,000 kids one-to-one," says Amy Rex, AMP's executive director. "For a moment you have their complete attention. It's nice to point to something so tangible."

The effort garnered more than 28 million print, broadcast, and online impressions. During the months of June, July, and August ads didn't run, which meant PR alone drove messaging. Web site hits averaged 180,000 per month during that time. By the end of 2007, AMP received nearly 600 campaign-related postings online (about 150 of which came in the months with no ads) and about 200 phone calls.

Future
The agency will continue working with AMP, which is seeking $2.5 million to move into a third phase of advertising. At this time, all energy is being focused on raising the money.

PRWeek's view
The ads are intense, bloody, and horrifying. While it's important to show the awful consequences of meth use, it was wise to focus PR on the positive flipside of staying away from meth. The ads grab attention, and PR was able to engage kids directly in enjoyable environments and reinforce the message in a positive way.

It was smart to create toys that kids like and would use. Glow-in-the-dark items are wildly popular with the Arizona youth, who are often out at night when it's cooler - a great example of knowing an audience. PR really went a long way to reinforce messaging while empowering kids to make a healthy commitment and express themselves.

Meth use among Arizona teens is 4.3% - nearly double the national average. Last year, state officials, and funding and community partners, created the Arizona Meth Project (AMP) to generate public awareness and educate teens on the dangers of meth.

PR team: Arizona Meth Project and Riester (both Phoenix)

Campaign: Not Even Once Summer Youth Pledge

Duration: May-September 2007

Budget: $72,800

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