A challenge of historic proportions.
In January 2014, Colorado became the first state in the country to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. Before the month was over, there were dispensaries on almost every street. Even more than Starbucks.
With the media frenzy that followed, youth perception of the risks involved with marijuana began to plummet. And when the perception of risk goes down, use goes up.
The trouble is, there’s a growing body of research that shows marijuana causes permanent damage to a kid’s developing brain. However, a lot of people dispute these studies. So we figured the best way to get through to kids was to admit the issue is still being debated and to let them know they were going to be a part of the on-going debate and research.
In effect, they were going to be lab rats.
The message was delivered on giant lab rat cages placed around the city. We also used digital, movie theater advertising and broadcast to reach the youth audience.
“Weed’s got to be safe, otherwise they wouldn’t have legalized it.”
We heard that a lot from Colorado teens during our statewide ethnographic study.
Within hours of the campaign launch, it became big news that spread across the entire country.
It was covered by The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS This Morning, ABC and hundreds of other news outlets.
But the most important thing was that kids got the message loud and clear. A third-party tracking study revealed that kids found all of the campaign messages believable and important. Their perception of risk increased and their intention to use marijuana decreased.
A pretty amazing feat considering the campaign was only in market for three weeks.