Putting the bitterest pills on show

Medicines become media to paint a picture of the opioid crisis

In the United States, 22,000 people a year die of an overdose of opioids, often prescribed as painkillers. To draw attention to the problem and its victims, Energy BBDO and the National Safety Council came up with a chilling solution. For a touring exhibition, faces of genuine victims were actually carved onto 22,000 tiny pills using a special technology. At the inaugural Chicago memorial, one pill was carved every 24 minutes, corresponding to the frequency of deaths by opioid overdose. A dedicated website allowed visitors to discover the story behind each face. Meanwhile, the agency created an “Opioids: warn me” sticker that could be added to insurance cards and provoke a dialogue with doctors when medicines are prescribed. 


About Energy BBDO

Founded in 1932, Energy BBDO is a full-service advertising agency based in Chicago and a unit of BBDO Worldwide, the most awarded agency network in the world. Energy BBDO functions as a highly creative and nimble boutique with all the benefits of a vast agency network. The agency’s philosophy is “Energize People. Energize Brands.®” and demonstrates the belief that only through powerful connections with consumers can a brand thrive. Energy BBDO creates award-winning and sales-driving marketing for clients including Wrigley, Bayer, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, and Rosetta Stone.