The Best Work You May Never See: JOAN Creative, JOAN Studios Share The Real Deal On Fentanyl For Ad Council


Robert Goldrich
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022


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The Ad Council, as part of a coordinated public awareness effort, has launched part one of a holistic approach to tackle the overdose crisis. Educating young Americans about the dangers and prevalence of fentanyl, the first phase of the campaign is funded by leading technology companies Snap and YouTube, with a separate campaign in partnership with Meta that focuses on informing parents of the drug’s dangers launching this Fall.

Drug overdose-related deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, with 2021 seeing a 52 percent increase over the previous two years. The rise in deaths is largely due to the growing presence of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, which were involved in an estimated 66% of overdose deaths during this time period. Over 190 people die each day from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

While 79% of teens say stress and anxiety are common reasons to misuse prescription medicine, 73% report they hadn’t heard of the risk of fentanyl being added to counterfeit pills.

“Young Americans are dying of fentanyl overdoses at a staggering rate and the time to act is now,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We’re so grateful to all our partners who are joining us in the fight against the overdose crisis and delivering critical information during a time of need. This powerful coalition is uniquely qualified to reach and influence young people and will allow us to make an extraordinary difference and save lives.”

A key component of the campaign is this anthem spot from JOAN Creative and produced by its JOAN Studios. Courtney Sofiah Yates directed via JOAN Studios. The youth-oriented piece aims to help young Americans understand the deadly reality of fentanyl-laced drugs, working with unexpected yet highly qualified sources to educate them on these fake drugs: former drug dealers. 

Shatterproof, a national non-profit dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the U.S., served as an issue advisor to the campaign production--in conjunction with Second Chance Studios and JOAN who worked hand-in-hand with these former drug dealers to develop classroom-style lessons that offer hands-on learning opportunities to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl. The content was captured at Holyoke High School in Holyoke, Massachusetts, an area especially affected by the crisis. Taking over the school for the day, former drug dealers stepped in as teachers--or “substitute dealers”--to educate students about the fentanyl crisis through the lens of their everyday class subjects. The pilot effort was captured by a documentary team, and the lessons will be edited into snackable content custom-tailored for social, digital and linear media. The lessons and resources for youth to learn about the dangers of fentanyl, how to reduce their risks, ways to help a friend, and other life-saving tools will also be available at, the campaign website developed by Viget and Good Works, Inc. Additionally, as part of this national youth fentanyl awareness campaign, Snap will launch a series of new Augmented Reality lenses, filters, stickers and content that amplify the campaign’s messaging across its platform, and SXM Media’s Studio Resonate has developed a series of audio PSAs to run in targeted donated media across their platforms and additional publishers. This multi-channel effort is designed to reach young adults across the country, getting them the facts on fentanyl through an interactive yet unconventional program in hopes that intercepting them during this impressionable time will potentially save their lives.



Client Ad Council Agency JOAN Creative Lisa Clunie, CEO; Jaime Robinson, chief creative officer; Lauren Costa, Abe Baginsky, executive creative directors; Hannah Lorentzen, Nicole LeLacheur, associate creative directors/copy; Natalie Fiacco, Hailey Lawrence, associate creative director/art direction; Peter Dommermuth, designer; Chris Turney, head of strategy; Kristin Van Note, group strategy director; Jimon Boadi, jr. strategist; Cheri Anderson, head of production; Emily Robbins, sr. producer. Production JOAN Studios Courtney Sofiah Yates, director; Zach Sky, DP; Cheri Anderson, managing director; Shami LaCourt, exec producer; Sam Broscoe, line producer. Casting Vitamin Enriched Postproduction JOAN Studios Shami LaCourt, exec producer; Madison Mavis, post producer; Chiao Chen, Grace Wiehl, editors; Grace Wiehl, Charlie Hocking, animation; Peter Dommermuth, designer. Original Music Premier Music Group Aaron Mercer, music supervision. Audio Sonic Union David Papa, mixer; Guina Petrarca, producer. Color Blacksmith Mikey Pehanich, colorist; Adam Vevang, producer.

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