health education

Opioid Hotline Runs OOH Outside Pharmacies

It’s all in the numbers for a new campaign designed to provide support to opioid addicts.

“855-HOW-TO-QUIT” shouts a billboard outside a CVS Pharmacy in Los Angeles.

Smaller print translates the letters of “How to…” into numbers for easy dialing, along with the direction to dial in “any opioid pill imprint code, to get advice on how to quit that pill from someone who did.”

The ad’s translation from an alpha-numeric phone number to a totally numeric one provides a clue as to how the new opioid quitting hotline works. Callers are asked to turn any letters imprinted atop their pills into corresponding numbers (and yes, even cellphone keypads have letters printed under the numbers), thus turning their specific pills into one of 30 phone extensions.

Once the user connects to their particular extension, they will hear from a person telling their own stories on how they got addicted to the particular drug and were then able to quit.



While those stories will normally be heard via recordings, agency Serviceplan Innovation tells Marketing Daily that the line will also be “operated live at times, depending on the availability of the people sharing their stories, as well as for the launch and during special events in the future.”

The pro bono ad campaign -- which also involves the Mediaplus media agency, Talon out-of-home (OOH) company, JOJX production company and design firm Raw Materials -- plans to not only use OOH ads near pharmacies and other “known hotspots,” but also print/TV/digital placements next to pharma ads.

The drugs emphasized will also change per market, Serviceplan says, with Philadephia ads featuring more fentanyl and oxycodone content, for example, and Washington state more hydrocodone content.

The campaign has started with billboards in Los Angeles, but Talon America says Philadelphia, New York and Cleveland should be on board soon, followed by additional markets.

855-HOW-TO-QUIT itself is an effort of a wide coalition of healthcare players and individuals, including corporate consultancy Anzen Health, nonprofits We Are Those People and PAIN (Parents & Addicts in Need), photojournalist Jeffrey Stockbridge, and activists Pamela Smith, Sober Sammy, and Ronny Morales. 

Media placements will continue to roll out throughout the year, Servicplan says, with the helpline to run for at least two years.

All content provides a link to, which functions as the campaign hub, featuring recordings of the 30 stories, resources for treatments, and various ways to support or join the initiative.

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