A Campaign to Spread the Word About Fake Pill Deaths in the Central Valley of California

When the Central Valley Opioid Safety Council contacted us about helping them promote a public safety message about the dangers of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl, of course we said yes. Their 30-second spot featured the family of Travis Jacobson, a young Californian who was tragically killed by a fake Xanax pill that turned out to be lethal. We at PSM were happy to underwrite both the direct costs and the labor costs of such an important public health message. 

 After receiving a final copy of the video by Travis’ family, we created an organic campaign via Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin, and a promoted campaign via our Partnership For Safe Medicines Twitter feed. We shared our organic content with all of our followers.

Organic posts on Facebook

Organic Linkedin posts

We focused the promoted campaign exclusively on the six counties in California that the Central Valley Opioid Safety Council serves.  Counties in the Central Valley have experienced a rash of fake pill deaths, so they were keen to get the word out to their constituency. We were eager to help.

Promoted Tweets on Twitter.

The Twitter promotional campaign was initially conceived as two different promoted tweets that included the short video from Travis’ family and a web link to the Central Valley Opioid Safety Council’s website.  Twitter blocked the launch of that particular campaign because the website we were linking to was not our own.  A second set of promotional tweets that did not include a hyperlink to the Central Valley Opioid Council was successful.

Between November 24, and December 19, 2020, these two ads were running daily, only seen by Twitter users in  six counties in the Central Valley: Fresno, Tulare, Mariposa, Madera, Merced, and Kings Counties.

Six counties covered by the campaign

Six Counties covered by the campaign.

Over the course of that period, the ads generated 102,261 impressions,1,481 engagements (likes, retweets, replies, etc.) with an overall 1.45% engagement rate and a 50.73% video view rate.  Video viewership was the primary goal of this campaign, and we were pleased to see such a high rate of viewership for ads running in such a small geographic area.  Of the 51,876 people who started watching Travis’ story, 28,689 watched 25% of the ad, and almost 4,000 people watched it to completion.

By comparison, the posts to Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin were organic, meaning that several different posts were shared a single time over the course of the month, instead of being advertised. Added together, the organic posts generated 1,931 impressions, 89 engagements (likes, retweets, replies, etc.) with an high overall 4.6% engagement rate but only 1,363 people started watching the video among the 8 different posts on three different platforms that we shared.

Promotion got this important public service message in front of the audience it was intended for, while the organic posts were only seen by our followers.

The bulk of the video views and interactions were generated by this simple tweet: ‘Travis died from taking a fake Xanax pill containing fentanyl. Please don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones.’ 

We would like to thank the Central Valley Opioid Council for giving us this opportunity. Special thanks must also go to Travis’ parents, Dr. Jerry Jacobsen and Carolyn Britten  and his sister Delaney for being so forthcoming in sharing their story with us.