Okay loyal readers, here's a quiz for you. Below is a list of phrases used by several organizations that have been formed over the years to simply make life better or to help humanity with the problems that plague it, ranging from homelessness to addiction to disease.
What I want you to do is think of the organization that uses the phrase. This is a little tricky, because not every organization uses a catchphrase or motto or whatever you want to call it. Im going to list the organizations first. I'll then list the phrases that may be associated with them (and as far as the phrases go I've done my best to be accurate. Ive searched on web pages and other literature and I think -- and hope -- Im correct with them all.)
Fraternal Order of Eagles
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
American Heart Association
Habitat for Humanity
American Cancer Society
Lions Club International
March of Dimes
Meth Prevention And Awareness Campaign In South Dakota
Knights of Columbus
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
ORGANIZATION'S PHRASES (In random order)
Meth. We're On It
"To save lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and fighting back."
It's Not Fine. But With Your Help, It Can Be.
Let's Find Better Days.
To Make The Best Better.
Doing The Most Good.
No More Victims.
End Polio Now.
In Service To One, In Service To All.
For God And Country.
People Helping People.
This is admittedly a bit tough, because as I inferred above, I'm not 100 percent sure that all of what I've listed just now are the official mottos or catchphrases or slogans that are associated with each the organizations that are listed above them. Plus, at least two organizations use the same motto. Several organizations simply don't have a motto (to the best of my knowledge) so the two lists aren't going to match up exactly.
I know I've already subjected you to a quiz, but please indulge me as I ask you to now take a bit of a mental exercise. Stretch out your gray cells a bit and imagine that when your car's license plates expire, you can have personalized plates made, but they must be one of the above slogans.
Some messages are easy winners, in my book. Who wouldn't mind their plates reading ENDPOLIONOW or WESERVE, or BE PREPARED or NOMOREVICTIMS?
Heres one: METH.WERE ON IT Any takers? Anyone?? I didn't think so.
Monday, Gov. Kristi Noem announced that a new campaign has been launched in South Dakota that aims to bring awareness to those who need help and friends and family of those who need help, while connecting community members who want to combat the issue locally.
She also announced that this campaign has a moniker: Meth. Were On It. But that's not all. Theres a website one can log on to for more information: OnMeth.com.
By now, you know that I've not fabricated any of this, it is all really happening and one of the reasons everyone is aware of that is, well, EVERYONE is well aware of it.
It didn't take long, after Gov. Noem made her Monday announcement, for Twitter users in South Dakota and then throughout the Midwest and eventually from coast-to-coast to begin tweeting about this very incongruous -- let's just call it bad -- choice of words used as the catchphrase for the state's new meth awareness campaign.
Noem tweeted this Monday evening: Meth is IN SD. Twitter can make a joke of it, but when it comes down to it - Meth is a serious problem in SD. We are here to Get. It. OUT.
Another of her tweets, made later Monday night, concludes with: We're starting the conversation - It. Is. Working. #MethWeAreOnIt
That hashtag at the end is unfortunate. As is the name of the website.
Twitter has been in an uproar over this for a good portion of Monday. Who knows how long the comments -- many of them poking fun at the campaign -- will last?
I have to admit one of the favorite tweets made in response to the new campaign's name reads: Are you guys okay?
There's nothing okay about how South Dakota's new anti-meth campaign has been marketed (it cost $490,000 to develop, by the way, according to news reports.)
I wanted us to together review the slogans associated with some of the most effective, helpful organizations in not just the United States but around the world so that we may better see what they all have in common.
They're short. They're effective. And they recognize a trait that all of us humans share, no matter our health or wealth or spiritual beliefs. We all share a common sense of dignity and the organizations above recognize that as they instill values in our young people and battle diseases and poverty.
To Make The Best Better. People Helping People. Let's Find Better Days.
These phrases all say something that South Dakota's new Meth. We're On It can never communicate. Men and women addicted to methamphetamine are going through a nightmare the likes that you and I probably can't imagine. They don't deserve to be associated with something that's trying to rely on double entendre or a pun or a play on words or whatever you want to call it.
For centuries, double entendre have been used in plays and literature and experts in those fields warn that their use requires clever and skillfully devised rhetoric -- success relies on the proper planning and delivery of just the right language at just the right time. Many double entendre can be very subtle, so that only certain characters and certain members of an audience (in this case, the reading audience) understand their double meaning and get the joke.
Except, there's nothing funny about this. And, I know, our governor may argue that no one was trying to be funny. She may repeat her claim that the fact that South Dakota is currently a laughing stock is proof of the new campaign name's effectiveness.
No. It's not.
Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, said any sincere messaging by the governor was lost by an ad campaign that embodies poor strategy and poor execution.
"I can't imagine this is what they intended to do; any good marketer would look at this and say: 'yeah, lets not do that,'" Pearce said in a Washington Post article Monday. "I'm sure South Dakota residents don't like being laughed at, that's what's happening right now."
Pearce said the advertisements -- which are placed on television, billboards and posters -- feel like domestic policy more than an actual effort to reach the people who need the resources.
"This is not about trying to find people in the tough parts of town that are hiding from society and using meth," he said. "This is about telling everyone in the state 'I know we've got a problem and I'm addressing it.' Nobody thought about the ramifications -- the Twitter reactions are hysterical."
In a statement emailed to The Washington Post Monday, Noem called the anti-meth initiative a bold, innovative effort like the nation has never before seen.
"South Dakotas anti-meth campaign launch is sparking conversations around the state and the country," she said. "The mission of the campaign is to raise awareness to get people talking about how they can be part of the solution and not just the problem. It is working."
Pearce isn't buying it.
"Theres another trope that goes 'when they're running you out of town, pick up a baton and pretend you're leading the parade," he said. "That's what this feels like."
South Dakota found it necessary to trademark its new Meth. We're On It slogan. I don't think we have anything to worry about.
No one is going to steal a phrase that a great deal of the nation and likely a good portion of our state finds to be a bit ridiculous.