The heroin epidemic is sweeping the nation, and New Castle County, Delaware, is on the front lines. With this drug destroying and taking so many lives, the New Castle County Department of Police Community Services Unit was ready to take drastic measures. They didn’t want people to stop using heroin. They wanted them to never start. The problem was, people were too oblivious or too scared to broach the topic. Our client needed a way to talk to the youth and their parents about the real dangers of this deadly drug.
After doing exhaustive interviews with law enforcement, addicts, people in recovery and rehabilitation experts, we determined the #1 problem was that too few people understood the dangers of heroin. That addiction started with pills. And that one dose of heroin could get you hooked—or worse, kill you. Additionally, parents and the community were blind to the problem. They didn’t know how close or pervasive the problem was. So we created a campaign that would engage young people and their parents, and force a dialogue. “The Heroin Trap” was a public awareness campaign that warned kids—and their parents—of the real dangers of opioid addiction. AB&C created a TV spot featuring a real life 911 call, along with arresting horror-movie images that drove to a microsite. On TheHeroinTrap.com, we worked with Facebook’s API to create an interactive experience that emulated the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series so that people could understand the decisions you have to make when you’re on heroin. Using a real-time incident map, parents and community leaders could also see just how close heroin was to their front door.
This campaign scared the hell out of people. And that was exactly the goal. Awareness levels of the campaign spiked and the campaign was featured prominently on local news outlets. Eventually it was picked up nationally as a model for opioid prevention. Suddenly, schools and community groups that were afraid to even broach the subject of heroin were now requesting the New Castle County Heroin Alert program to come and speak to students. This model has now been picked up by several counties and statewide health organizations across the country.