Award-Winning Short Animation Educating on Medication-Assisted Treatment Options for Growing Opioid Epidemic in New Mexico
A collaboration with PK Public Relations and Invisible City Designs
In 2014 PK Public Relations developed the “Dose of Reality” public health campaign to address the rising mortality overdose rates in New Mexico and bring awareness to teens about the dangers of prescription painkillers. Reaching at-risk audiences, the messages of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery are conveyed in an informative and engaging way. These successful campaigns have previously covered topics including safe use, storage and disposal, and use of naloxone to prevent overdose deaths. As a part of their current campaign, we were asked to produce a 30-second animated ad that explains the important of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in aiding the treatment of opioid addiction.
Opioid addiction is a serious subject. The unique challenge of this project was conceptualizing a 30-second short that could tackle such a heavy topic and create something uplifting that would give hope of a solution for people who are or have family members affected by this. The key idea we were asked to convey was to show addiction as an illness similar to other chronic diseases.
The short clip begins with soothing colors and imagery accompanied by the simplicity of a Spanish guitar and reassuring narrator. It is clear by the animated visuals, selection of hues, and drawings of the characters this is a story pertinent to the New Mexico community. For many, this is a difficult problem to face but the clip provides the feeling of a safe space in which the issue can be addressed. This calm approach is devoid of the triggers and images of addiction that one might want to look away from. Instead, it focuses on the humanity of the people. The ad illustrates a person withdrawing from society and follows with suggesting a possible solution to be able to reach out to them again in a caring way.
Central to the clip is educating the public to consider viewing opioid addiction in a different light, like a medical condition rather than a character flaw. The narrator suggests caring and support, almost as though it is speaking on behalf of those who are in the midst of opioid addiction and cannot advocate for themselves. A heartfelt plea from the perspective of the opioid user, with repeated use of the word ‘we’ serves to remind the audience that this is a community issue and it is something that could easily pertain to everyone.
The language is plain and straightforward describing the effects of this condition and a possible solution through the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment. From there the clip shows the possibilities of what a successful treatment might look like.
Giving a glimpse of what a happier future might look like for someone once they are in the recovery stages, the ad quickly moving from one vignette to another showing a new career, improved familial relationships, a better outlook in general. The visuals then move to a map of New Mexico and pinpoint the areas around the state where new treatment facilities that are participating in the MAT program are showing up. It encourages viewers to call and find out where their nearest location is. This is the call to action for people who want this hope for recovery and better future that was just displayed to them. The clip ends with a visual of everyone reunited in the photo and back together again.
This was widely acclaimed as a success for helping those suffering from opioid addiction to find the resources to help with their disease. It won Gold Davey awards for animated campaign branding and Best of Show by the Public Relations Society of America NM.