‘Fentalife’ ad campaign hits streets of drug-plagued San Francisco


Some streets of San Francisco are leaning into its fentanyl crisis to raise awareness about the deadly narcotic.

A new ad campaign, dubbed “That’s Fentalife!” aims to catch the attention of residents and elected officials by placing colorful advertisements with cheeky comments in different parts of San Francisco where drug use is exceedingly — and heartbreakingly — high.

The leader of the activist group, TogetherSF Action, that spearheaded the campaign said the “flippant or cheerful” ads are to “draw a sharp contrast to the darkness of the reality.”

“We don’t want to come on too heavy because we’ve become numb and normalized to the situation,” co-founder and executive director Kanishka Cheng told SF Gate.

“The point of the font and bright colors is to draw contrast; it’s about what should be this bright California lifestyle we aspire to have in San Francisco versus the reality playing out on our streets.”

Among the attention grabbing signs include “The Fentalife is no life,” “No yelling while selling drugs. Kids are trying to sleep around here,” and “Drug dealers now have more rights than our kids,” NBC Bay Area reported.

Some of the eye catching ads in San Francisco.
Some of the eye catching ads in San Francisco.

Another ad stated, “Don’t forget to add Narcan to the family shopping list” with a sub-headline that states “We don’t like the new routine. Do you,” according to the San Francisco Standard.

The drug crisis has ravaged the city with a more than 40% jump in overdose deaths from January through March in 2023, according to a press release from the California governor’s office.

Most of the fentanyl-linked deaths have happened near the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Since 2020, about 2,300 people have died from drug overdoses in the city, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The push comes as the city’s Board of Supervisors works to pass a budget for next fiscal year.

At least one elected official criticized the colorful campaign.

“These ads do not deliver real results on what we’re looking for: tackling the fentanyl crisis,” Supervisor Connie Chan told the news outlet. “They only stir up fear and anxiety.”

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