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WPP, iHeartMedia and Fors Marsh Group launch the National Opioid Action Coalition to help combat the US opioid epidemic

0 The initiative will bring local, state and federal efforts together with private sector and influencers to eliminate stigma as a barrier to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery

In response to the national opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans and impacted millions more in the past year, WPP (NYSE: WPP), iHeartMedia and Fors Marsh Group today announce the launch of the National Opioid Action Coalition (NOAC), an initiative focused on reducing stigma as a barrier to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.

Leveraging the marketing power and behavior change expertise of WPP, iHeartMedia and FMG, NOAC will help support local, state and federal opioid misuse and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery efforts by elevating the conversation around stigma.

Stigma represents a major issue in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The fear of being judged can prevent people with substance abuse disorders, or those at risk for developing them, from getting the help they need. It also affects how families, communities and companies address prevention and treatment issues. NOAC’s mission is to employ leading research and behavior change communications techniques to provoke engagement and action among target audiences, particularly in the private sector.

WPP agencies will develop creative for a series of public service announcements for NOAC for use by state governments and other partners. Additionally, NOAC is beta-testing a new mobile app to help people encountering opioid overdose incidents to rapidly locate and receive the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. These resources will be made available in the coming months.

“WPP’s operating companies have been involved in battling the opioid crisis on an ad hoc basis for some time,” said WPP CEO Mark Read. “NOAC formalizes our efforts and demonstrates our commitment to help spark a national conversation about the stigma of opioid addiction and inspire more companies to bring the weight of their brands to help combat one of the greatest public health epidemics in the US.”

“This is an epidemic that is impacting families and individuals across America, and we want to harness our national reach to expand awareness, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in communities across the country – and highlight local, state and federal government resources that are available to those fighting against this epidemic,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia.

“The opioid epidemic in the United States is one of the worst public health crises of our lifetime. Yet, despite record-breaking addiction and fatal overdose rates, only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder received treatment last year,” said Dr. Sean Marsh, CEO, FMG. “As a founding member of NOAC, FMG is committed to reducing stigma and will apply its expertise in behavior change and communication research to guide the development of effective, resonant messaging,” he said.

NOAC will hold a debut event during the annual New York City Advertising Week on October 3, 2018 which will be moderated by Bobby Bones, iHeartMedia’s nationally syndicated radio personality and #1 New York Times best-selling author. Alongside marketing and advocacy leaders, the panel will include United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who will speak about current government initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic and ways that companies and celebrity influencers can partner with federal, state and local agencies to assist public efforts in addressing the opioid crisis. To learn more about NOAC, visit


 About WPP

WPP is the world leader in communications services. The company provides a comprehensive range of services including digital, ecommerce & shopper marketing; advertising & media investment management; data investment management; public relations & public affairs; brand consulting; health & wellness communications; and specialist communications.

About iHeartMedia

With over a quarter of a billion monthly listeners in the U.S. and over 131 million social followers, iHeartMedia has the largest national reach of any radio or television outlet in America. As the leading audio and media company in the U.S., iHeartMedia serves over 150 local markets through 849 owned radio stations, and the company's radio stations and content can be heard on AM/ FM, on satellite, at, on the company's station websites and on iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia's digital music, podcast, on demand and live streaming radio service, available on over 250 platforms and 2,000 devices, including on digital auto dashes, tablets, wearables and smartphones, on virtual assistants, smart speakers, TVs and gaming consoles.

iHeartRadio offers users the country's top live radio stations, personalized custom artist stations created by just one song or seed artist, on demand features and the top podcasts and personalities. The all-in-one digital service has more than 1.7 billion downloads, 120 million registered users and is the No. 1 commercial radio podcaster in the U.S.

iHeartMedia's platforms include radio broadcasting, online, mobile, digital, social, podcasts, personalities and influencers, live concerts and events, syndication, music research services and independent media representation. iHeartMedia is a division of iHeartMedia, Inc. (PINK: IHRTQ). Visit for more company information.

About Fors Marsh Group

Fors Marsh Group (FMG) uses research and strategy to understand, influence, and measure the way people and organizations think and make decisions. As an American Marketing Association Gold Top 50 firm, the emphasis of our work has always centered on the idea of being better. One way we’re creating a positive impact on the world is through our work in public health. Our team of health and risk communication researchers and strategists design and execute rigorous studies and innovative activities to develop strategies that drive action and improve outcomes. As a certified B Corporation, FMG’s business practices create positive impact beyond our client portfolio, extending into the community through pro bono service to nonprofits that are aligned with FMG’s corporate values.

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WPP: Kevin McCormack

iHeartMedia: Jessica King,

FMG: Andy Blenkle

About the author

Ronne Ostby

Ronne Ostby

Ronne Ostby is an experienced social marketing and health communication professional with more than 19 years in the field. She has proven expertise in applying communication and marketing principles to consumer campaigns on a range of health concerns, including illicit drug and alcohol use, tobacco use, prescription drug misuse and abuse, suicide prevention, youth violence prevention, and adult immunization. Her skill set includes primary and secondary research, situational analyses, strategy development, creative planning and oversight, campaign execution, and project leadership.

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