The Antidrug Lord
Tom Siebel keeps kids off meth by pushing shocking ads.
Tom Siebel keeps kids off meth by pushing shocking ads.Outside a convenience store, a teenage girl makes an offer to an intimidating group of men: "You can do anything you want to me for 50 bucks." When one of them asks about her younger sister, standing nearby, she offers her up too. The men shuttle the girls, covered in scars, into a grungy bathroom. A voice-over confirms what many teens watching the television ad already know: "This isn't normal, but on meth it is."Earlier this year, a series of such ads began airing in Illinois and Idaho, where the highly addictive drug has ravaged communities, crippling state budgets in the process. To stop the addiction cycle, billionaire software developer Tom Siebel (of Siebel Systems) has used his business savvy to create and promote the Meth Project-an anti-methamphetamine organization that targets first-time users. The organization aggressively preaches to young people with graphic portrayals of addiction on billboards, radio, and television.Siebel, 55, borrowed the advertising concept from the American Cancer Society's successful "Truth" antismoking campaign, and his Meth Project ads go well beyond the classic "your brain on drugs" tagline. The spots offer a snapshot of meth addiction at its worst: a son attacking his mother; a boyfriend selling his girlfriend for drugs; a boy hallucinating that bugs are crawling on his skin; and the transformation of a pretty girl into one with skin sores and tooth decay. "We're really focused on realism," says Siebel. "That's exactly the way addicts look." With the slogan "Not Even Once," the campaign targets teens who haven't yet tried the drug.
|We're really focused on realism. That's exactly how addicts look.|