I came across this piece of information while I was reading the report on Catalytic Philanthropy by Mark R. Kramer and this article is derivative of the mentioned report. The article stunned me about the social impact brought about by Thomas Siebel whose foresight, tenacity and wisdom are instrumental in bringing about a paramount change in the lives of substance abuse in the United States especially teenagers. It is dedicated to youth around the world especially in America, to Thomas Siebel for his wisdom and compassion for identifying the problem and launching Project Meth. Finally, to millions of parents, friends around the world who lost someone close to them to substance abuse.
Thomas Siebel is a very successful entrepreneur, he founded Siebel Systems which he sold to Oracle. He is a well-known philanthropist and founder of Project Meth. The Meth Project was founded in 2005 by the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, in response to the growing Meth epidemic in the U.S. The Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program for reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. Central to the program is a research-based marketing campaign, community action programs, and an in-school lesson all designed to communicate the risks of Meth use. ( http://www.methproject.org/about/).
In 2005, Montana had the fifth worst record of Methamphetamine use in the US. The usage was very rampant in rural areas in the US due to lack of awareness of the harmful effect of Meth addiction.
Instead of giving money to nonprofits in the US, Thomas Siebel went to the root of the problem. He researched and evaluated to understand that majority of drug use was among teenagers who were not aware of pitfalls of meth abuse. He hired one of the best directors in Hollywood to make high impactful advertisements which won national and international critical acclaim. High impact advertisement is advertisements of short duration, in this case, 30-second advertisements played on televisions and other sources of media.
In order to drive home the message, a brutal no holds advertisement would shake up youth especially teenagers. I have myself undergone the vicissitudes of life at a young age. Let’s look at this advertisement.
The success of Meth Project was so absolute and measurable that it had a lasting effect on lives of people in Montana and gave one of the best examples of the success of impactful measurable advertising. The success of Meth Project should be replicated across countries, nationalities, and different religious affiliations. To make a structural change, the advertisements have to be repetitive and played across different promotional channels as possible, to reinforce the harmful consequences of the usage of drugs. Mr. Seibel spent $2 million on annual advertising budget, generated more than 45,000 television ads, 35,000 radio ads, and 1,000 billboards in the first two years.
Between, 2005 to 2007, drug usage dropped from 45 percent among teens and 72 percent among adults and meth-related crimes fell 62 percent. The awareness among teenagers about dangers of addiction to Meth increased from 25 percent to 95 percent which acted as a catalyst for change in dissuading others from using Meth. According to the updated statistics published on the website, Teen Meth has declined by 63%, Adult Meth declined by 72% and Meth-related crime declined by 62%. (http://montanameth.org/about-us/).
Over the years, teen meth has continued to decline while other statistics remain more or less constant. Moreover, the decline among the teens is significant highlighting advantages of the persistent advertisement among the youth. This is one of the most prominent successful cases of social impact which includes identifying and analyzing the cause of the issue, addressing creative measures to discuss the problem and implementing solutions with absolute precision. The project spread across other states in the US and is one of the best examples of high social impact. Project Meth saved lives of many Americans and their families and its contribution to humanity is timeless and priceless. In the end, this is one of the best examples of how targeted advertising can bring about a change for the positive and serves as an example of hope to impactful fight substance abuse around the world. I leave you with this brutal advertisement to think about the many lives lost due to substance abuse, the helplessness, and despondency for victims and their families. It is our right to make this a better world, help and spread knowledge to make it a better world for everyone and I do so in my own small and simple way by writing articles about issues which are close to my heart…Substance abuse is one of the gravest risks known to humanity and must be removed from the face of this planet. Let’s all make a pledge to help stop this menace forever…