The Truth About Opioids: Leidos and The Truth Initiative
An estimated 72,000 Americans died of drug overdose in 2017, according to preliminary CDC numbers released in August 2018. That is nearly 200 Americans a day.
In late 2016, Leidos employee John Hindman lost his son to a heroin overdose as opioid misuse was becoming an epidemic in America. Not long after his son’s death, John decided to become an advocate for preventing drug addiction and called upon Leidos CEO Roger Krone and the company to take action. After establishing an internal task force and doing considerable research, the company set out to help end the opioid epidemic in the communities where Leidos employees live and work. In 2017, the company launched a social responsibility campaign with an expanding circle of influence:
The company’s initiative started with employees where they helped counter stigma by providing a safe environment to talk about substance misuse. Krone openly communicated about the epidemic and steps that can be taken to boost prevention and recovery in employee town hall meetings and in a Washington Post forum.
The company has also collaborated with government and private industry on this initiative. In 2018, Krone attended the signing of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, committing the company’s support to help end epidemic. And in 2019, the company launched a CEO Pledge, calling on business leaders to join the fight. To date, more than 80 organizations have signed the pledge, and this effort has been recognized by the Department of State who seeks to build public-private partnerships toward the same end.
As opioid misuse became an epidemic in America, Truth Initiative felt compelled to leverage its know-how and the equity from their successful truth® anti-tobacco campaign to help tackle the crisis. In 2017, Truth Initiative began exploring the feasibility of launching an opioid misuse prevention and education campaign in addition to its core tobacco work. In June 2018, Truth Initiative expanded its mission and launched The Truth About Opioids in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Ad Council in response to a need for a national opioid misuse prevention campaign to address our nation’s opioid epidemic. As part of this program, Truth Initiative began exploring partnerships that could help support and amplify their work. Leidos’ work and leadership in helping to end the opioid epidemic in America made them a logical and authentic partner.
The Truth Initiative and Leidos partnership was anchored by a $1 million commitment from Leidos as the sole, exclusive supporter of the research behind The Truth About Opioids public messaging campaign which launched in June 2018 and continued through 2019.
With The Truth About Opioids as the foundation of the partnership, both organizations leveraged their respective assets all year-long to achieve the objectives and goals. Tactics included:
The Truth About Opioids
This public messaging campaign was developed in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council in response to a need for a national opioid misuse prevention campaign to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. The content was distributed to teens and young adults thanks in large part to Leidos which supported the research behind the campaign and the Ad Council which brokered donated media. The first series of the campaign highlighted young people who intentionally hurt themselves to gain access to more opioids. The second series, called “Rebekkah’s Story,” captures 26-year old Rebekkah through a multiscreen installation in New York City, allowing passersby to experience her opioid addiction, withdrawal and treatment. Leidos’s support of this work is saving lives as viewers learn that opioid dependence can happen in just 5 days, and it can happen to them.
CEO Pledge to End Opioid Addiction
Throughout the year, Truth Initiative helped Leidos attract new signees of The CEO Pledge as it reached out to companies to support The Truth About Opioids.
Truth Initiative webinar
In February, Truth Initiative hosted a webinar titled The Truth About Opioids: The campaign and the movement. The goal of the webinar was to inform companies about The Truth About Opioids and the effort that Leidos is leading to mobilize corporate America to help end the opioid epidemic. Several key companies participated and, subsequently, signed the CEO Pledge.
Leidos sponsored the development of a television series on A&E called Addiction Unplugged which looked inside the world of addiction and recovery. Leidos invited Truth Initiative and other partners to participate in the filming of Episode 4 of the series.
As a result, The Truth About Opioids national media campaign achieved 96,400,455 video views, 3,529,101 social engagements and 96,400,455 website visits.
Initial data suggests:
- Perceptions of the risk of opioid misuse significantly increased.
- Perceptions that anyone could become dependent on prescription opioids
- Seeking out and sharing information as part of a movement to end the epidemic significantly increased.