Drug Free Kids sends the Pill Fairy for your meds

The non-profit takes a more light-hearted and actionable approach to get parents to discard expired or unused pills.

pill-fairyDrug Free Kids Canada has turned the Tooth Fairy into a husky, bearded “Pill Fairy” to get people to properly dispose of leftover meds, part of August’s National Drug Drop-off Month.

The nonprofit is drawing attention to prescription drug abuse and the need to keep children safe by calling on Canadians to drop off unused meds at their local pharmacies for safe disposal (according to the organization, more than half of teens who misuse prescription drugs say they get them from home).

Chantal Vallerand, executive director at Drug Free Kids Canada, says making the Pill Fairy male was the focus of lots of internal discussion and research. According to the group’s insights, message retention and call to action were stronger with a male, says Vallerand, who admits that the humor and tone is quite a departure from the serious way the organization has approached the issue in the past. Vallerand says the strategy was to communicate preventive steps in a more concrete way, rather than being overly dramatic or using condescending scare tactics.

Vallerand tells strategy that the group’s main challenge is getting parents to know Drug Free Kids Canada is a resource to help them communicate prevention messages with teens. Drug Free Kids’ audience – parents with teenage kids – is a shifting cohort, so it’s important to have a mix of media and diversify its outreach, Vallerand says. In addition to TV, radio, digital and print executions, agency partner FCB Montreal developed an array of social executions and shareable content, including lighthearted GIFs, which will be deployed in daily posts throughout the month.

Drug Free Kids has partnered with Canadian pharmacists, and says that while people can bring back prescription drugs any time of year, August was chosen as National Drug Drop-Off Month because it’s a quieter time when more members of the household tend to be home. The organization is hoping to exceed last year’s haul of 828 tonnes of returned pharmaceuticals, which Vallerand says was 14% higher than it was in 2017. The campaign does, however, run until January to extend the pharmaceutical safety message outside the focus month.

The organization does two campaigns annually, Vallerand says, and adds that Pill Fairy’s ad spend is slightly higher than last year’s campaign.