Humanizing A Crisis: Energy BBDO Collaborates with National Safety Council

We accomplished a lot for the brand, and we got people to stop and understand the real danger that could be happening in their own home, they just might not be seeing it.


Andres Ordonez
Chief Creative Officer Energy BBDO

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

I am the Chief Creative Officer at Energy BBDO and was honored to have hands-on creative leadership of this project along with my amazing team.


Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

Prescription opioids kill more than 22,000 Americans each year and can be found in 3 out of 5 homes in America. NSC’s mission is to eradicate preventable deaths, and they recognized that this was a nationwide killer no one was talking about. Americans needed something emotional that would force them to confront their own vulnerability and take the threat seriously.

To humanize the crisis, we turned data into faces — engraving the faces of the 22,000 victims who die each year from opioid overdoses onto 22,000 pills. These pills form a powerful installation; a memorial that tells stories on an individual level by painting a picture of the lives lost, and by putting a face to the problem. A new pill was carved on site every 24 minutes, to dramatize how often a person dies of a prescription opioid overdose. And, to provoke action, we created “Warn-Me Labels” that are insurance card stickers to prompt conversation with medical professionals, which were provided to the memorial visitors free of charge along with safe pill disposal envelopes.

The memorial didn’t conclude in Chicago; it was built to travel, later touring locations across the country, including Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Buffalo, and even the White House Lawn in D.C.


Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?

NSC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eradicate preventable deaths from causes like falling, choking, car accidents, and drug overdoses. Though they had been doing life-saving work for over 100 years, most Americans had never heard of them. They had been so focused on saving lives that they had prioritized campaigning about the issues at the expense of brand-building.

NSC could save more lives if people knew who they were. To establish NSC as a leader in safety, our first step was to develop a brand platform, #StopEverydayKillers, which would create consistency and build recognition for them over time. To launch the platform, NSC needed a bold campaign that would demonstrate their power to stop a preventable killer.



Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

After uncovering how prevalent prescription opioid overdoses are, we tried to understand why that number kept growing and why Americans weren’t taking the threat seriously. The insight we uncovered was that, while Americans know addiction is a problem, they think it is killing “addicts” and not people like them. We needed to make the issue personal in order for Americans to take the threat seriously. The data point that a person dies from a prescription overdose every 24 minutes drove the creative execution.  


Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  

We knew that the first step in combating the Opioid Crisis was to face it. No one had ever made a memorial to the victims of prescription opioid overdose before. We brought statistics to life in a way that couldn’t be ignored.


What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

We had to make sure we carved pills perfectly to honor the victims we were depicting. Lots of testing went into carving the pills and finding the right machine to do so. But the most challenging part was getting to know the real families behind the victims.


What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

We accomplished a lot for the brand, and we got people to stop and understand the real danger that could be happening in their own home, they just might not be seeing it.

The work really resonated and will hopefully help save lives. It feels good to know that we’ve already distributed over one million “Warn-Me Labels.”

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

For now, the memorial continues to travel around the U.S. to cities hardest hit by the Opioid Epidemic. But, we’re definitely not done yet.