Dutch OM launched a new campaign ‘XTC, a smelly business’ to track and prosecute XTC criminals

Ads, Creativity, CSR

XTC is a hot topic in the Netherlands. The production of XTC and other synthetic drugs, always comes with the danger of toxic substances, gasses, fire and explosions. The production also creates dangerous waste. This waste often gets dumped in open water or in nature reserves, resulting in hazards for the health of people, animals and plant life. When toxic waste is dumped in open water or sewer systems there is a risk for the quality of drinking water as well. Of late all this has created a growing movement focused on tracing laboratories and dumpsites-and the prosecution of the criminals involved.

To track and prosecute XTC criminals, citizen support is a welcome help. While unaware of the presence of a lab, citizens often do notice the signals of XTC production such as the distinct smell. The National Public Prosecutors’ Office (OM) wants citizens to notice the smell and recognize it as an indicator of a nearby drug lab. With the new campaign ‘XTC, a smelly business’ The OM brings the distinct smell to attention with the introduction of a new fragrance: XTACY. Today, Den Bosch, capital city of the province with the highest density of drug labs, was the place to kick off the campaign.


Test for testers

As with most introductions of new fragrances, a promo team in a busy shopping street approached as many people as possible to talk about the fragrance and hand out the familiar ‘testers’.

The team asked people if they wanted to test the new fragrance “with strong hints of anise” and how they liked it. Then, they explained the full story. Within hours, the scent spread through the province capital. The National Public Prosecutors’ Office first handed out the fragrance to Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Public Prosecutor Lars Stempher about the new campaign:

The approach of synthetic drug production is constantly being renewed because criminals are growing smarter in hiding their labs from police and prosecution. The impact on society increases as labs become more hazardous and more waste is being dumped in the public domain, leading to bigger risks for public health and environmental damage. The drug labs are located in residential areas as well, and there are certain signals by which citizens can recognize the presence of a drug lab, in particular the smell. Sowe introduced the new fragrance as the important signal of a nearby lab. Under the motto: once smelled, later recognized.


In 2018, 82 labs and 79 chemical storages where discovered in the Netherlands as well as 292 dump sites of chemical waste. In recent years drug labs are getting bigger and more professional.

Police stations and city halls.

The initiative is led by two officers from the Public Prosecutors’ Office in Zwolle. These two officers investigate alternative ways to deal with crime. Part of this investigation was an internship at Roorda Advertising Agency with the aim of finding out to what extent citizens can contribute to the fight against crime.

Together they came up with the introduction of the new fragrance ‘XTACY’. The National Public Prosecutors’ Office will distribute bottles and scent strips of the fragrance among police stations across the Netherlands and ask cities to organize similar actions in order to make more people aware of the smell and hopefully uncover more drug labs.

Joeri Jansen (Creative Director Roorda Advertising Agency):

Initially we were quite surprised when two public prosecutors applied for an internship. In the end it turned out to be a very smart way for the ladies to steal a strategy and a creative idea from us. We are not averse to unconventional ways to develop campaigns, so we could very much appreciate this daring action. And of course it is a big compliment that our campaigns apparently stand out in such a way that even the judiciary notices us. We very much hope that this campaign will be a great success.