Changing Gen Z Iowans’ perceptions on prescription drug abuse

Changing Gen Z Iowans’ perceptions on prescription drug abuse

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is tackling a huge problem – opioid abuse. It’s a national epidemic and no state, including Iowa, is unaffected. IDPH engaged ZLRIgnition to develop a campaign that would combat opioid abuse in the most susceptible group, Generation Z. The digital and outdoor campaign was so successful, we are now working on a similar campaign targeted to adults

Research reveals the opioid misconceptions

Currently young adults aged 18 to 25 have the highest abuse rate of any age group – 5.9 percent reported using nonmedical opioids in the past month. Youth aged 12 to 17, are not far behind with 3.0 percent reporting abuse in the past month.

Online focus groups with Iowa teens and young adults reinforced the statistics indicating growing misuse. Prescription misuse was discussed as being as prevalent, but shockingly was not seen to have harmful health consequences. The youth invincibility complex makes it hard for teenagers and young adults to understand that an overdose can happen to them. The other key insight was that taking a friend’s prescription drugs (opioids, Xanax, Ritalin, etc.) was considered a safer alternative than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor. However, the reality is four out of five of today’s heroin users began their addictions by misusing prescription opioids.

Selecting the right media to target Generation Z and post-campaign evaluation

We developed a strategy to tackle the misconception that prescription drugs are safer with an attention-getting advertising campaign that would include online banner ads, YouTube pre-roll, outdoor billboards and online streaming radio ads. All ads were strategically placed to target Generation Z, with some advertising also geolocated to high-risk areas of the state.

A post-campaign survery showed the campaign was successful. More than half of all respondants recognized at least one campaign advertisement. Of those that recalled any ad, 84 percent reportered it caused them to seriously think about the ads’ messages. The above YouTube ad, which won a gold AA Award at the Des Moines American Advertising Awards, has been viewed almost one half million times.We are now working with IDPH to develop a campaign targeting adult opioid abuse.