Stepping Up CDOT’s Marijuana Education Campaign

Cannabis Cup 2015

After a successful launch year for CDOT’s Drive High, Get a DUI campaign, research revealed persistent misperceptions on the fact that driving while high will lead to a DUI.

CDOT returned to CIG for support with the 2015 launch of the campaign. CIG responded by expanding its outreach to dispensaries and enhancing the educational munchies tactic at the Cannabis Cup that proved powerful in 2014. In addition to continuing earned media outreach, the team incorporated two new, hands-on elements to resonate with the audience at the Cannabis Cup.

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CIG leveraged the popularity of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s famous quip, “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” to put marijuana safety information directly in users’ hands.

Big brother and unapproachable or lighthearted and inviting? CIG recommended the latter for the CDOT booth at Cannabis Cup 2015, and it was the right choice. Event participants were encouraged to put their mark on this shared canvas that communicated marijuana safety messages. Foot traffic at the booth was consistently high both days of the event.

The CDOT booth at Cannabis Cup 2015 enticed participants with a munchies wall, life-size painting canvas, giant Jenga and Nintendo 64. The main message? There are a lot of things you can do while high, but driving is not one of them.

Young adults love games and gimmicks that they can share with their friends via social media. Marijuana users love munchies. And Colorado’s citizens, whether or not they use marijuana, want to make sure that those who choose to partake are doing so safely. These truths informed CIG’s efforts to build upon 2014’s Drive High, Get a DUI campaign. CIG focused its creative tactics, earned media pitching and community outreach between April 10 and April 21, culminating in the 2015 Cannabis Cup and continued excitement the day after. B-roll footage prepared prior to outreach helped to garner additional media attention.

Partnerships enhanced the campaign’s credibility and impact.

But back to the fun stuff. In 2015, the street team distributed 11,000 CDOT-branded, educational munchies (up from 5,000 the year before), helping to extend the reach of the agency’s safety messages at Cannabis Cup. The CIG team continued its efforts to change the marijuana-using public’s perception of CDOT from stiff regulatory agency to concerned friend with two additional creative tactics – the Cannabis Quiz Cab and Cannabis Cup Booth. Attendees remarked that they were surprised and pleased to see a state agency at the event. What’s more, CDOT wasn’t heavy-handedly extolling abstinence, but rather asking people to consume marijuana responsibly. A welcome change in the conversation, and another brick in the foundation of an effective ongoing campaign.