Educational Munchies Teach Public About Risks of Driving High

Cannabis Cup 2014

Recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado when the state’s voters passed Amendment 64, setting in motion a whirlwind for state agencies grappling with new regulations and safety concerns. For the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the challenge was clear — how do we inform Coloradans that consuming marijuana before or while driving is not only dangerous, but also will lead to a DUI?

Research revealed that, while marijuana use was increasing, safety awareness was not.

CIG recommended a multifaceted communications program blending collateral, earned media and strategic partnerships with marijuana organizations and events. Oh, and let’s be clever, too.

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The CIG street team distributed 5,000 bags of Cheetos and Goldfish, with safety information about marijuana legalization presented in a friendly manner, depicting CDOT as a concerned friend, rather than an authority figure.

The conversation continued on social media.

Targeted media outreach helped to amplify our campaign message, and we exceeded our earned media objective with this tactic alone. Educational munchies at the Cannabis Cup resulted in 58 media placements, tolling more than 22 million media impressions for a publicity value of $25,000.

A 2014 CDOT study found that 43 percent of marijuana consumers in Colorado thought it was okay to drive high. This startling statistic encouraged the agency to launch the Drive High, Get a DUI campaign in March 2014.

CIG’s charge was to inform 21- to 35-year-old marijuana users that it’s illegal to drive high, and doing so would result in a DUI. Inspired by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s tongue-in-cheek comment upon the passage of Amendment 64, “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” the team set out to create an innovative tactic involving the two snacks, or ‘munchies,’ as they’re known among marijuana users. Education, via labels stuck to the snack bags, would happen at the largest marijuana event in the country, attracting close to 40,000 enthusiasts – the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup, taking place in the heart of the Mile High City.

Munchies with a purpose.

CIG received notice to proceed on this particular tactic just nine days before the event. The team didn’t miss a beat, quickly executing the plan within budget. CIG designed original labels and adhered them to 5,000 snack-sized bags of Cheetos and Goldfish. In just 90 minutes, all the bags were in the hands of marijuana enthusiasts at the Cannabis Cup. The Drive High, Get a DUI munchies were a hit with attendees, the media, CDOT and the event organizer, resulting in a critical partnership with High Times for future Cannabis Cup events. The Colorado chapter of PRSA recognized the effort with its coveted Gold Pick award.