A powerful marketing campaign can be the make-break point of business, and so it is with heroin. Dealers are cranking up the creativity to generate interest, coming up with clever branding that advertises heroin’s most enticing promises—giving their products such names as “So Amazing,” “Rolex” and “High Life.”
Because when it comes to heroin, a new customer is a lifelong customer on automatic.
What’s in a Name?
In the world of consumer advertising, an enticing title can bridge the gap between window shoppers and interested buyers. In the case of heroin, dealers toy with the dark desires of their consumers, appealing to their love of danger, delusions of grandeur, or obsession with the high.
The glassine bags that hold the drug are stamped with names ranging from whimsical to haunting. Customers likely have their own preference depending on their expectations. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who died of a heroin overdose, had nearly fifty bags of heroin in his apartment stamped with “Ace of Spaces” or “Ace of Hearths.” Others prefer the morbid side of heroin, opting for such brands as “Flatliner,” “Dead Medicine” and “Killa.” Those who love a good brush with death lean towards products like “9 Lives” and “Black Jack.”
The empty promises of heroin branding often have deadly consequences. Though consumers may believe that they are getting the same product each time, there are no standards when it comes to heroin. It is common practice to cut (dilute) the drug in order to raise profits. The more hands it changes (i.e., more dealers), the more frequent the cut.
The end result is often as morbid as the branding. When users think they are getting the same product each time, they are in for a rude awakening on the day that something more potent comes their way. This is why drug experts often compare drug use to a game of Russian roulette.
The Endless Side of Addiction
Photographer and author Graham MacIndoe turned his five-year addiction into an artistic expose of the drug world he had discovered and finally broke away from. Among his displays are photographs of various heroin bags that he used, prominently displayed with their harrowing stamps. Many such products are still available in Brooklyn, which is where he lived during his period of drug addiction.
Dealers would offer free samples, MacIndoe explains, to generate interest in their brands. If they lost customers due to continually cutting their products, they would win them back by offering the original, more potent version under a more alluring name. When they were hooked, they were customers for life, willing to do whatever it took to come up with the cash for more heroin.
The Easy Drug
Heroin has truly become the easy drug. It’s easy money, easy addiction, and easy to get. More and more people are turning to the famous narcotic after getting hooked on prescription opioids. Pharmaceuticals are far more expensive and harder to get than heroin. And who can beat the trendy brand names?
The truth is, heroin—like all drugs—is also easy death. Easy misery. Easy disaster. Even the most well-intentioned people who seem to have it all end up criminals as they scramble to do whatever they can to get more drugs.
Don’t be fooled by manipulative marketing.