The Best Work You May Never See: The Garden Issues Potentially Life-Saving "Coke Challenge"


Robert Goldrich
Thursday, Sep. 5, 2019


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In the U.S. and Canada approximately 80,000 people die of overdoses each year. This is double the rate from just 10 years ago and the direct result of fentanyl contaminating the illicit drug supply, causing 40,000 deaths last year alone.

Since 2016 fentanyl-laced cocaine fatalities have grown at a faster rate than fentanyl-laced heroin fatalities. At more than 5,000 per year, casual or recreational cocaine users are at the greatest risk because they have little to no opioid tolerance and, unlike daily heroin users, are largely unaware that synthetic opioids are being cut into their drugs.

This video, made by Toronto-based creative agency The Garden in partnership with DanceSafe, is directed at people who use cocaine recreationally, challenging them to a “coke challenge.” The challenge is whether or not they can look at two bags of cocaine and determine which one is laced with fentanyl. The two bags look the same. Their contents feel and smell the same. But the video shows them how to tell the difference between the two samples, informing viewers of a simple test strip that can possibly prove life saving. Fentanyl test strips can detect fentanyl and its many analogs, including the deadliest of all—carfentanil—in cocaine and other drugs. Like a pregnancy test, the strips use immunoassay technology and provide accurate results within two minutes. One red line is positive for fentanyl. Two red lines is negative. 

“Naloxone has been successful in reversing opioid overdoses, but fentanyl test strips can prevent overdoses in the first place,” said Emanuel Sferios, founder of DanceSafe.

DanceSafe, a U.S.-based nonprofit is the world’s largest reseller of fentanyl test strips, distributing over 20,000 per month directly to drug consumers at music events around the U.S. and Canada, and online through its website.

The Garden created and produced the video--directed by Clay Stang--to support International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held on August 31st each year to raise awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma associated with drug use.

“We know that the days of ‘just say no’ are long behind us, and that the war on drugs was lost,” says Shane Oglivie, founder of The Garden. “We want to help educate people on harm reduction strategies that can actually make an impact, and shift the public conversation towards practical, evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis.”


Client DanceSafe Agency The Garden Shane Ogilvie, creative director; Lindsay Eady, associate creative director/writer; Francheska Galloway-Davis, associate creative director/art director; Clay Stang, director; Shari Walczak, strategy director; Mike Kovacs, project cultivator/producer; James Morren, director of visual media. Production Darrin Klimek, DP. Editorial Brett Erinas, editor. Audio Jason Hopfner, audio capture. Grayson Matthews Mark Domitric, Ella Kovacs, audio production. Color Artjail Clinton Homuth, colorist.

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