NCADA Anti-Heroin Super Bowl Commercial Featured An Overdose Set To A Happy Song & It Was Horrific
So far this year, the Super Bowl XLIX ads have been incredibly depressing, like with Nationwide's well-intentioned but poorly executed child safety commercial that included a boy who died. Well, viewers in the St. Louis area had the distinct displeasure of watching a similarly styled ad that meant well, but ultimately was just not appropriate for the message. A commercial by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse — St. Louis (NCADA) featured a young boy becoming addicted to heroin and his mother finding him after he overdosed, all set to a terrible, happy jingle.
The commercial was upsetting not just because of the content — it is important to have ads that bring attention to important issues — but because of the way it was put together. The happy-go-lucky song about dying because of heroin used lyrics such as, "So you’re jonesing real bad, yeah you need some more," and "Said just one time, and then you’d be fine, but soon you OD’d and now you’ve died." A lot of people were understandably: 1) confused, 2) upset, and 3) just plain angry, especially those who know someone who died from a drug overdose and found the lighthearted commercial particularly horrific.
The NCADA must have known the commercial would tick off more than just a few people, even though the intention to bring awareness to this cause is noble. Prior to its release, the organization wrote in a news release on the NCADA website:
The stark contrast in tone between the upsetting images and the almost light-hearted music is an intentional choice that reflects the stark contrasts of these real-life situations. ... In using the tools of drama to convey this crucial truth in a 60-second spot, we created a parallel disconnection between the visual story we see on screen and the musical story we hear. It is disturbing. It is jarring. It is painful to watch. And we must pay attention to it.
For some people, the tactic to spread the message worked.
The NCADA is undoubtedly a great organization that works to serve the St. Louis community, but at some point, didn't someone think, "Maybe we shouldn't sing a happy song with lyrics about a dead teenager?" If it was just a depressing commercial without the lighthearted tune, it would be fine, just another sad ad to go along with the rest of them in an attempt to open our eyes. It was a good try and a good message, but the contrast the NCADA was going for wasn't clear in the execution. The parallel the ad purports to portray just doesn't work in this situation, and it was possibly more horrific to some than it was helpful. See for yourself: