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As the first major U.S. city to legalize retail marijuana, the City and County of Denver tasked us with creating an effective platform to educate Denver’s youth on the effects of underage marijuana use. Youth, a notoriously difficult audience to engage, don’t want to be lectured; they want the facts and the opportunity to make their own decisions.

Strategy

We found that they don’t grasp the high costs of underage marijuana use. To change that, we created, “High Costs,” a campaign to give them the straight facts about weed. Giving youth the facts in a relatable way sparks conversation between peers, and provides them with the information they need to make the responsible decision not to use underage.

Solutions

In year one, we created the game show, “Weeded Out.” Local teens competed by showing off their marijuana knowledge. Following the game show, a “classroom-in-a-box version” of the game was developed and distributed to Denver schools and other youth-serving organizations.

In year two, we used unconventional analogies to make the effects of underage marijuana more tangible for youth. By skipping the bull and providing the straight facts, youth can begin to understand the high costs of underage marijuana use.

City of Denver Tactics: social, preroll, website, advanced TV, class in a box and OOH

Results

The High Costs campaign generated over 30 million earned media impressions in the first year of the campaign, totaling a publicity value of over $3.8 million. Coverage extended nationally through an in-depth feature story done by CBS This Morning focusing on the inventive nature of the Weeded Out game show and its new spin on educating youth about marijuana.

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